Like a Tarantino scene - why result is so hard to predict

woman walks out of polling station

The striking feature France's politics today - apart from the unprecedented strength of the far right - is that it is no longer a left-right contest.

This election is a three-way duel between left-wingers, pro-Macron centrists, and the hard right. Think of it as a scene from a Tarantino movie where each gunman has to keep an eye on two deadly rivals. Versions of that fight have been been playing out in 577 constituencies all over France for the past week.

To make it to the second round, a candidate must gather enough in the first. Runs-off have traditionally been between two candidates. But this time around a whopping 306 constituencies have seen three candidates qualify (there were only eight such "triangulaires" races in the last election in 2022 and just one in 2017).

Tactical withdrawals have reduced the number of three-way battles to 89.

But that is still a huge number - and there are two four-way races.

This makes the result harder to predict than ever. Only when the dust settles we will know who has survived.