Macron appears poised to take 28.6% of the votes, putting him in first place, according to an analysis conducted by pollster IFOP-Fiducial for French broadcasters TF1 and LCI. Le Pen is on track to come second with 23.9%.
Twelve candidates were running for the top job. If none of them receives more than 50% of the ballots, the top two candidates will face each other in a runoff on April 24. But a second round is all but guaranteed — no French presidential candidate has ever won in the first round under the current system.
The contest was marked by voter apathy, with 25% of all eligible voters abstaining, according to IFOP-Fiducial. That makes the turnout the lowest for a first round in 20 years.
Macron is seeking to become the first French president to win reelection since Jacques Chirac in 2002. While polls have given him a consistent edge over the field, the race tightened significantly in the past month.
Surveys ahead of the race showed that a second round of Macron vs. Le Pen was the most likely outcome. Macron handily beat Le Pen five years ago, but experts have said that a second contest between the two would be much tighter than the 2017 race.
This is a developing story. More details to come