Let’s take a quick peak at the upcoming French national election.
In the latest French Election Poll, no candidate has over 20% support. Incumbent president Emmanuel Macron is leading the way.
The above table is minus 7 candidates all polling less than 2% in the latest poll. A chart of poll averages better explains what’s happening.
Macron (La République en Marche!) in Yellow is slowly slipping. The meteoric rise is by Valérie Pécresse (Les Républicains) in turquoise.
Meet the Candidates
Marine Le Pen changed her party name from National Front to National Rally. That did not seem to help her any.
How the French Election Works
The people of France elect their President every five years.
Contenders must, among other things, be nominated by at least 500 elected representatives (e.g. mayors, deputies).
Starting April 10, there is an upper limit on spending which is monitored by a committee.
Once the official campaign has begun, each candidate must have strictly the same amount of airtime on TV and radio.
April 23 is the 1st round of the election. The French people go to the polls: if no candidate wins over 50% of the vote, a second round is organized.
The second round is on May 7. Only the two candidates with the most votes qualify for the 2nd round.
The candidate with the absolute majority of votes cast is elected. Blank or spoilt votes are not taken into account.
The above condensed from French Election Process, in English.
What’s Going On?
The only candidate to have edged Emmanuel Macron in any poll for the all-important second round of the French presidential election, Valérie Pécresse has enjoyed surging ratings since she won the conservative Les Républicains party primary in early December. Analysts say Pécresse poses a formidable threat to the president as she targets his voters on the centre ground of French politics.
For much of Macron’s term France expected – and did not want – a replay of the 2017 Macron vs. Le Pen duel in the 2022 presidential election second round. In this landscape, traditional conservatives Les Républicains (LR) looked trapped in a constricted political space between President Macron and the Rassemblement National’s Marine Le Pen, then unassailable as the far-right’s standard-bearer. But new developments have changed the dynamic. As political scientist Jérôme Jaffré put it, just like Eric Zemmour “shook” Le Pen by outflanking her on the extreme right, Pécresse is “shaking” Macron as she encroaches on his territory – the far more vote-rich centre ground.
Pécresse has imposed herself as a major threat to Macron in the second round – as demonstrated by an Elabe survey in early December showing her beating him in the runoff, amid a polling surge after her LR primary triumph. That Elabe poll was like an “electric shock”, an anonymous figure close to Macron told Le Journal de Dimanche.
“One of the biggest threats posed by Pécresse is her party’s ability to wage an electoral ground war,” Shields said. “LR remains a formidable campaigning machine with a deeply embedded presence across the towns, departments and regions of France and a newly energised and expanded membership. This contrasts with Macron, Le Pen and Zemmour, none of whom have anything like the same capacity to mount an extensive ground campaign and rally grassroots support across the country.”
Far Right Split
Marine Le Pan and Éric Zemmour are battling for the far right vote, splintering both of them. The latest polls have their combined effort at about 27%. The poll averages have them closer to a combined 30%.
That’s more than Macron but it’s not enough to win a French election even if you magically could combine the two.
All the socialists, communists, greens, etc., would hold their noses and vote for Macron in a two-way runoff.
What About Macron vs. Pécresse?
Macron has more support but it’s not very deep.
The far-right candidates may easily prefer Pécresse to Macron. And what about the female vote?
All things considered, I suspect Pécresse would beat Macron in a two-way runoff if the election was held now.
But the election isn’t now. It will be held in April-May.
French politicians have a way of flaming out and the public often finds a way to back the most leftist candidate in the final pair.
But the Right sometimes wins and that’s my bet right now in the May round 2 runoff.
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