World News

Timeline - The six months to the topsy-turvy French presidential election

PARIS (Reuters) - French voters go to the polls on April 23 and May 7 to vote for a new president, after a six-month-long campaign like no other.

People line up to vote in the French election at the Consulate General of France in Manhattan, New York, U.S., April 22, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Here is a timeline of the main events that have seen veteran politicians drop out of the race one after the other:

Nov 16, 2016 - Former economy minister Emmanuel Macron, an independent centrist, launches his bid for the French presidency.

Nov 20, 2016 - Voters unexpectedly kick ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy out of the centre-right primary ballot in its first round.

Nov 27, 2016 - Former prime minister Francois Fillon wins the centre-right primaries’ second-round and becomes his camp’s candidate, beating favourite Alain Juppe, whom opinion polls had seen as France’s next president.

Dec 1, 2016 - Socialist President Francois Hollande announces he will not seek a second term, the first time since France’s fifth Republic was created in 1958 that an incumbent president has not sought a second mandate.

Jan 25, 2017 - Prosecutors open a probe after investigative weekly Le Canard Enchaine reports that Fillon paid his wife Penelope hundreds of thousands of euros as his parliamentary assistant for work it says she did not do. Fillon denies wrongdoing.

Jan 29, 2017 - Leftwinger Benoit Hamon wins the Socialist primaries, beating ex-prime minister Manuel Valls, who had for weeks been the favourite to win his camp’s backing.

Feb 1, 2017 - Macron overtakes Fillon in opinion polls, with the latter damaged by the fake jobs allegations. Macron is seen qualifying for the second round alongside far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen and winning that run-off.

Feb 5, 2017 - Le Pen kicks off her election campaign with a pledge to protect voters against globalisation and hold a referendum on EU membership.

Feb 22, 2017 - Le Pen’s chief of staff is put under formal investigation over the alleged misuse of EU funds to pay parliamentary assistants.

March 14, 2017 - Magistrates put Fillon under formal investigation on suspicion of embezzling state funds, a first for a presidential candidate in France.

March 18, 2017 - Eleven candidates get the go-ahead to run in the election.

March 20, 2017 - Macron was seen as the most convincing in a televised debate among the five top candidates, an opinion poll showed, helping him consolidate his frontrunner status.

April 4, 2017 - Firebrand leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon was found the most convincing performer by viewers of a televised debate among the 11 candidates, a snap poll showed, with Macron in second place.

April 7, 2017 - The presidential race is tightening in its final weeks with Melenchon and Fillon narrowing the gap on long-time frontrunners Macron and Le Pen, opinion polls show. They still show Macron winning the election.

April 23, 2017 - First round of the presidential election goes ahead. Polling stations open at 8 am (0600 GMT) and the last ones close at 8 pm.

Reporting by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Catherine Evans