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First Round of French Elections

17 April, 2012 08:13  Erin Erin

urne de vote République Française sur une carte du monde - Élection des députés des français de l'étrangerThe first round of French Presidential elections approaches and it's not just the French that are interested. The globe is a buzz with speculations about who will win this vital election. The April 22nd election is between ten qualified candidates (they need to get the support of at least 500 elected politicians) including incumbent president, Nicolas Sarkozy.


Nicolas Sarkozy

The incumbent candidate, Sarkozy is a member of the Union for a Popular Movement (Union pour un Mouvement Populaire, UMP). As the president of France Sarkozy has garnered international attention for his politics as well as personal life with his wife Carla Bruni. It has been widely reported that Sarkozy will receive less expat support than in 2007 when he received 53.99% amongst French voters living abroad (and 53.06% of the votes overall).

François Hollande

Parti socialiste (Socialist Party, PS) is the largest French centre-left party. Along with the UMP, this is one of the major contemporary political parties in France and Hollande and Sarkozy are the front runners in the race (both voting intention figures now stand at 28% according to recent polls).

Marine Le Pen

Member of the National Front, Le Pen is President of the party. This party is known for its right wing politics, though Marine Le Pen has sought to distance herself from some of the party's past after taking over for her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen. They have regularly scored between 10% and 17% for the past presidential elections.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon

Candidate for the Front de Gauche (Left Front). This is a coalition created for the 2009 European elections, composed primarily of the French Communist Party, the Left Party and the Unitarian Left. His results in the polls have been constantly raising and some expect him to reach 15% (in 2007, the Communist Party achieved only 2%).

François Bayrou

Mouvement démocrate (Democratic Movement, MoDem) is a centrist, social liberal and pro-European French political party. Founded by centrist politician François Bayrou, he had a strong showing in the 2007 presidential election with 18.57% of the votes; however current voting intention show figures closer to 10%.

Eva Joly

Candidate of Europe Écologie-Les Verts (EEVL = The Greens), Joly is a Norwegian-born French magistrate.The Greens party has signed an alliance with the Socialist Party for the parliament election in June. The presidential has never been a success for the party and they are currently standing at 2% in the polls.

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan

Dupont-Aignan is a French gaullist and souverainist politician. Once a member of the center right-wing UMP party, he is the founder and president of Debout la République (Arise the Republic, DLR) and co-president of the European political party EUDemocrats - Alliance for a Europe of Democracies. Voting intention about 1%.

Philippe Poutou

The Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (New Anticapitalist Party, NPA) is a French political party that was intended to be temporary. The party seeks to unify the fractured movements of the French radical Left. Voting intention about 1% (in 2007 they did 4%).

Nathalie Arthaud

Lutte Ouvrière (Workers's Struggle) is a French Trotskyist political party. Voting intention about 1%.

Jacques Cheminade

Solidarité et progrès was founded by Jacques Cheminade in 1996. The small party is associated internationally with the politician American Lyndon LaRouche. Voting intention close to 0%.

The Process

The two-round runoff voting is a voting system used to elect a single winner where the voter casts a single vote for their chosen candidate. In the first round, all candidates are listed on the ballot and voters indicate their preference of one of them. The votes are added up and if a candidate receives a majority of the vote (50% + 1 vote), that candidate is declared elected. If no one receives a majority, the two candidates who received the highest number of votes are entered into a second runoff election.

The second election is typically held two weeks after the first. The idea behind this system is to ensure that the ultimate winner obtains an outright majority of all votes cast.

Expatriate Vote

French nationals abroad will be playing an important part the upcoming election. France has about 1.1 million expats that are registered to vote out of a total of around 44.5 million registered voters. Turnout is expected to surpass 2007's 42 percent amongst the voters abroad. The United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Canada and the United States hold the largest populations of overseas French voters.

The election is of concern globally, not least of which because of the success of French extremist parties. Many voters complain that there is not a clear distinction between front runners Sarkozy and Hollande, allowing for more extremist parties to take hold.

It appears that the expat vote may be slipping from Sarkozy's grasp. The French expatriate newspaper Le Petit Journal and TV5Monde published a survey that shows Sarkozy ahead by two points in the voting intention of French abroad, but this is one of the only polls to clearly place him in front. This is a much tighter gap than in the 2007 ballot, when Sarkozy won 54 percent of the overseas runoff vote to 46 percent for the Socialist candidate.

Using the voting results for French overseas in 2007, we created a helpful map to help readers understand the history of voters abroad. Countries in blue mark places where Sarkozy received more than 50 percent of the vote; pink marks countries in which he received less than 50 percent (or where Ségolène Royal, Socialist Party candidate, got more than 50%).


French vote aborad - France's Presidential election 2007


How to Vote

French expats are allowed to vote if they were registered to a consular before December 31, 2011.

    Options for Voting:
  • In person at ballot boxes arranged by French consulate (there are over 786 different polling stations including embassies, consulates and sites rented by the French government).
  • Proxy voting (the proxy must be given to someone voting in person at the same polling station).

Note that while EU citizens with resident status are legally entitled to vote at French elections such as Élections Municipales (Local Municipal Elections) and European Parliamentary Elections, but are not eligible to vote in Presidential or Parliamentary elections.

To read more about the election from a French Expat's perspective, read our Editor's piece [in French], "Election Présidentielle 2012: Le vote des Français de l'étranger indécis".

UPDATE: 23 April 2012 - 9.30am GMT

Results 1st round French presidential elections 2012:

François Hollande: 28,63 %
Nicolas Sarkozy: 27,18 %
Marine Le Pen: 17,9 %
Jean-Luc Mélenchon: 11,11 %
François Bayrou: 9,13 %
Eva Joly: 2,31 %
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan: 1,79 %
Philippe Poutou: 1,15 %
Nathalie Arthaud: 0,56 %
Jacques Cheminade: 0,25 %


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