The 2017 French elections: An overview

The 2017 French elections: An overview

Mr Fillon is now the front runner for the presidency.

On 20th November François Fillon, a former French Prime Minister won the second round of the French right and centre primary by a landslide, with 67% of the votes against the more centrist former Prime Minister Alain Juppé. Most French elections consist of two rounds, the second round being between the two candidates that made the best scores during the first round. This system leaves the possibility for smaller candidates to get a bigger chance of, if not winning, at least reaching the final confrontation. Here, it made room for Mr. Fillon: for most of the past year he was third in the race, behind Juppé and former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Mr Fillon is now the frontrunner for the presidency. The two rounds of elections will be held, on April the 23rd and May the 5th 2017. Recent polling shows that Fillon would arrive first with about 26% of the votes followed by Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front (FN), with 24% of the votes. Then would follow the candidates of the left and the centre left, winning about 10% each. A second round involving Mr Fillon and Mme Le Pen would follow, which Fillon is likely to win by more than 30 points (67% to 33%).

With the current Socialist president, François Hollande, declining to run again (his approval ratings are an abysmally low 4%)  many alternative leftist candidates are now starting to organize themselves to run for the Socialist Primary, or within smaller parties. On the far left, Front de Gauche (the Left Front) candidate Jean-Luc Mélanchon is now credited of 13% of the votes, more than the incumbent president. His far left policies of taxing the rich, Euroscepticism, anti-Americanism make him unlikely to win, but he will split the votes and drastically reduce the chances of the left of ever reaching the second round.

On the other side of the left, Emmanuel Macron, former Economy Minister under Valls’ second government, announced his candidacy last November. Mr Macron is running with his own political platform, En Marche (On the Move). As a centrist, he is looking to reassemble moderates on both sides of the political spectrum around his candidacy. He is now credited of about 14% of the votes, making him the third of the race and first on the left. His popularity has been increasing with young people, the most abstentious voter group, unleashing an unpredictable potential. He lacks a real programme as he has spent the past 8 months collecting testimonies from French people all around the country in order to write one. It is not yet clear what specific policies he would put in place if elected, though he claims to be a liberal, economically and socially. We will see.

Next Spring will see an unprecedented election with an uncommon diversity of candidates and many possible outcomes. As the presidential election is followed a month later by the legislative elections (that are organized in the same fashion on a smaller scale) its outcome could be anywhere from both branches of government being held by the same party, to a cohabitation of a President and a Prime Minister from two different sides. Mr. Fillon is the front-runner now, but six months is a long time in politics.


Featured Image Credit- Wikicommons

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