What time will we get French election results?

Author: Adam Button | Category: News

The time and timeline of the election in France

The first round of voting in France goes on Sunday, April 23 with a second round amongst the top two candidates on May 7.

Voting finishes at 7 pm in Paris, exit polls are released at 8 pm. 

 For those of you who don't know this; exit polls aren't results. They're usually done by TV networks by standing outside voting stations and asking people how they voted. In the US election and Brexit, the exit polls were wrong.

(spoiler: she didn't)

In any case, exit polls will move the market at 8 pm Paris time.

That's 2 pm in New York, 3 am in Tokyo, 4 am in Sydney and 6 am in Auckland. In short, it's early so there's the possibility of a gap in markets.

Also consider this, which explains why this year is a bit different:

The tradition in France is that at 8pm all eyes turn to TV screens where the images of the two candidates who qualify for the second round will be displayed.

But things may be a little different this year. Previously voting stations (apart from those in the big cities) have closed at 6pm giving counters in the 250 designated polling stations on which the initial result is based, plenty of time to find out who is on top.

But this year those polls will close at 7pm, meaning the results given at 8pm on TV screens will only be based on a partial count. And in this year's tight election race it might not be possible to pick the two clear winners at such an early stage.

The partial results however will be rapidly updated throughout the night as counting continues so if we don't know for certain at 8pm we soon will.

With social media and foreign media who don't stick to the strict rules it's been hard in the past to keep the results under wraps until 8pm.

That's why you might see people wildly celebrating or groaning long before 8pm. French media can be fined up to €75,000 if they release the results before 8pm.

The thing is, no French election has ever been this much of a derby. One comparison might be the 2002 vote where Jean-Marie Le Pen won 16.86% of the vote in the first round, just ahead of Lionel Jospin at 16.18%. The exit polls put Le Pen as high as 17.9% and Jospin as low as 16.0%

So the initial results could be a percentage point or more off and if they're close, the market may have some time to trade before the outcome is clear.

The actual tally generally takes until about 3 hours later or even longer if it's very close. At around 11 pm in Paris, 6 pm in New York and 7 am in Sydney it should be fairly clear with about 70% of the vote in.

What could add a wrinkle is the later close for cities. Rural areas are more likely to break towards Le Pen and Melenchon so early results could overstate their strength.

We'll have more on the polls as we get details and we'll have live coverage at ForexLive as the news rolls in.

Other things that could influence the market open are signs of turnout, which will be out at noon and 5 pm Paris time. Low turnout would be a good sign for Le Pen and Melenchon as their supporters are most likely to turn up.