Search engine analysis could be pointing to a strong Macron showing in France

Belgian broadcaster RTBF has analyzed internet searches across France, just as the first polls open in the first round of the country's presidential election.  Its analysis from Google Trends could point to a strong showing on the way for centrist and pro-EU candidate Emmanuel Macron.

Macron leads extreme-right candidate Marine Le Pen, centre-right candidate François Fillon, and extreme-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon in Google searches across most of the country's departments, though Mélenchon has the edge on internet interest across part of the country's southern regions.

In the 24 hours prior to the opening of polls in France today, it is illegal for candidates to campaign or for domestic media outlets in the country to report on the campaign.  However, this leaves the French-language press in neighbouring Switzerland and Belgium free to conduct reports, analysis and opinion polling over the final weekend of the first-round campaign.

RTBF reports that search-engine activity successfully projected François Hollande's 2012 victory over Nicholas Sarkozy five years ago, as well as Marine Le Pen's stronger-than-expected first round showing that year.