Macron vs. Le Pen: The French presidential election runoff explained

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen will face each other in a runoff presidential election on Sunday, April 24 -- a rematch of the 2017 vote.

Paris (CNN)It's Macron vs. Le Pen, round two.

France's presidential election will be a rematch of the 2017 contest, when the far right's Marine Le Pen faced off against political newcomer Emmanuel Macron.
Macron won that race by nearly two votes to one.
    But while the candidates remain the same, the 2022 race is shaping up to be a very different affair.
      Here's everything you need to know.

      How does the election work?

      To elect their new President, French voters head to the polls twice.
        The first vote, on April 10, saw 12 candidates run against each other. They qualified for the race by securing endorsements from 500 mayors and/or local councilors from across the country.
        Macron and Le Pen received the most votes, but since neither won more than 50%, they will head to a runoff on Sunday.
        This isn't the only national vote France faces this year -- parliamentary elections are also due to take place in June.

        What dates do I need to know?

        Macron and Le Pen held one debate on the evening of April 20 that was aired by French broadcasters France 2 and TF1.
        Le Pen appeared much more prepared than in the event in 2017, when her poor performance effectively doomed her campaign. Le Pen attacked Macron on economic measures, arguing he hasn't done enough to help French families cope with inflation and rising energy prices, while Macron went after Le Pen's ties to Russia and previous support for President Vladimir Putin.
        A poll from CNN affiliate BFM TV found that 59% of voters found Macron to be the more presidential of the two.
        The runoff election will then take place on Sunday April 24.
        Candidates are not allowed to campaign the day before the vote, or on election day itself, and the media will be subject to strict reporting restrictions from the day before the election until polls close at 8 p.m. Sunday in France.

        What do the polls show?

        A much closer contest than the 2017 election.
        Macron and Le Pen both increased their total share of the vote in this year's first round compared with 2017, but surveys ahead of the first round earlier this month showed Le Pen enjoyed a late surge of support in March.
        Polling by Ifop-Fiducial released on April 10 suggests Macron would win a second-round contest against Le Pen by just 51% to 49%. Macron's advantage has slightly increased in the days since the first round results came in, according to the same polling.
        Political analysts often say the French vote with their heart in round one, then vote with their head in round two -- meaning they choose their ideal candidate first, then opt for the lesser of two evils in the second round.
        Macron saw this play out in 2017. He and Le Pen scored 24% and 21.3% of the first round vote and then 66.1% and 33.9% in the second round, respectively.
        To be reelected, Macron will likely need to convince far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon's supporters to back him. Melenchon came in third place with 22% of the vote. On Sunday, Melenchon told his supporters "we must not give a single vote to Mrs. Le Pen," but did not explicitly back Macron.
        Most losing candidates urged their supporters to back Macron to block the far right from winning the presidency.
        Eric Zemmour, a right-wing former TV pundit known for his inflammatory rhetoric, urged his supporters to back Le Pen.

        What are French people expecting?

        The unexpected.
        At the start of 2022, the election looked set to be an important referendum on the rising popularity of the French far right. It has been 20 years since a French President was reelected, so the vote was shaping up to be one of the country's most watched political races in decades.
        Then Russia invaded Ukraine.
        With Europe's eyes fixed firmly on Putin's bloody war, priorities have quickly shifted: Ammunition stockpiles, high-stakes diplomacy and even the threat of a nuclear strike have all entered the national debate.
        Macron assumed the role of Europe's statesman, taking him away from the campaign trail, while Le Pen was forced to backtrack on her previous support for Putin.

        What else has changed in the past five years?