France's uncertain presidential election

Posted on the 2nd November 2016 by Ieva

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This May, the French will participate in a national presidential election that is likely to be over before it starts.

Unless current President Francois Hollande withdraws from the race and allows another candidate to be the nominee of the Socialist Party, the only electable candidate will be the nominee of Les Républicains, France’s centre-right party.

French elections consist of two rounds. In the first round, French citizens may vote for the nominee of any political party. The two nominees that acquire the most votes progress to the second round, where the French elect one of them to be their president for the five following years.

Recent polls suggest that current socialist president Francois Hollande will not even come close to making it past the first round. A recent poll conducted by CEVIPOF, the research center of France’s prestigious SciencesPo University, estimates Hollande’s approval rating at 4%, making him the least popular French President of all time.

Already unpopular due to his failure to bring France’s unemployment rate below 10%, a core promise of his 2012 presidential campaign, Hollande’s risibly low approval ratings are the aftermath of a recently-published collection of interviews conducted by the Le Monde journalists, during which he allegedly made numerous islamophobic remarks. Now less electable than ever before, the incumbent president will wait until December to announce whether he will run for a second term.

The Socialist Party's most likely nominee to replace Hollande is Emmanuel Macron, a 38-year-old former Minister of the Economy. Macron, an ex-investment banker and self-described pro-business socialist, is responsible for a piece of legislation to his name (“La Loi Macron”) whose aim was to introduce more business-friendly policies.

Should Hollande represent the Parti Socialiste in this election, it is highly probable that Marine Le Pen, leader of the Front National, France’s far right party, will make it to the second and final round. Today, with the election six months away, polls show her winning approximately 30% of the vote. Le Pen’s increase in popularity since the last election is mainly attributed to a rise of xenophobia in France, a nation that has suffered from 3 major terrorist attacks in the past two years.

While Le Pen is certainly a force to be reckoned with, she is still highly unlikely to win the presidency. Whoever becomes the nominee of Les Républicains, France’s centre-right party, is almost certain of making it to the next round. In a face-off between Marine Le Pen and a Les Républicains nominee, most voters whose preferred candidate does not make it past the first round are likely to shift their vote toward the latter candidate, winning the election for France’s centre-right party.

Les Républicains will hold primaries in late November to choose their nominee. Of the eight candidates currently in the race, all of whom promised to tackle unemployment and France’s inflexible labour laws, two favorites have emerged: former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who appears to be running his campaign on a populist platform to seduce far-right voters, and Bordeaux mayor Alain Juppé, a more moderate conservative. Recent polls show Juppé leading the pack with approximately 40% of the vote. Sarkozy, currently in second place, is trailing Juppé at 30%...

Written by Benjamin Smith Taylor

  1. http://www.cnbc.com/2016/10/26/french-presidential-hopeful-fails-key-election-test-france-hollande.html
  2. http://www.timesofisrael.com/sarkozy-on-defensive-in-first-french-presidential-primary-debate/
  3. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-election-idUSKCN12M0EX
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/12/francois-hollande-france-has-a-problem-with-islam-french-president-book-nicolas-sarkozy-little-de-gaulle
  5. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/oct/12/marine-le-pen-national-front-riding-anti-establish/

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