The first round of the 2017 French presidential election is set to be held on 23 April 2017. Should no candidate win a majority, a run-off election between the top two candidates will be held on 7 May 2017. Incumbent president François Hollande of the Socialist Party (PS) was eligible to run for a second term, but declared on 1 December 2016 that he would not seek reelection in light of low approval ratings, making him the first incumbent president of the Fifth Republic not to seek re-election. This is also the first French presidential election in which nominees of both the main centre-left and centre-right parties were selected through open primaries. The presidential election will be followed by a legislative election to elect members of the National Assembly on 11 and 18 June.
François Fillon of the Republicans, after winning the party’s first ever open primary, and Marine Le Pen of the National Front led first-round opinion polls in November 2016 and mid-January 2017. Polls tightened considerably by late January, and after the satirical weekly Le Canard enchaîné published revelations that Fillon possibly employed family members in fictitious jobs as parliamentary assistants in what came to be known as “Penelopegate”, Emmanuel Macron of En Marche! overtook Fillon to place consistently second in first-round polling. At the same time, Benoît Hamon won the Socialist Party primary, entering fourth place in the polls. After strong debate performances, Jean-Luc Mélenchon of Unsubmissive France began to rise significantly in polls in late March, overtaking Hamon to place just below Fillon. Polls for the expected second round of voting further suggest that Fillon, Macron or Mélenchon would beat Le Pen, that Macron or Mélenchon would defeat Fillon, and that Macron would beat Mélenchon.