Monday, April 23, 2012

First Round of France’s Presidential Election Results – It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over

  And It Won’t be Over Until May 6

France has a two part Presidential election process.  In the first round, just completed on Sunday everybody gets to compete.  In the second round the two top finishers face off, so the result is that France gets a majority winning President even though it has multiple political parties. 

Francois Hollande
The very dull and very endangered
front runner Mr. Hollande
Incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy finished a narrow second in the first round, just barely behind Socialist candidate and favored candidate Francois Hollande.  But the race was so close that Mr. Hollande’s victory in May in the two person runoff can not be taken for granted.  The main reason for this is the strong third place finish by the far right party led by Marine Le Pen. 

But the shock of the night was a record 19.3 per cent performance by the National Front’s Marine Le Pen, who outdid pollsters’ predictions after capitalising on widespread French discontent with the mainstream political elite.

The National Front was a far right, almost neo-Nazi party that has been somewhat rehabilitated into just a radically conservative party by Ms. Le Pen.  She is a dynamic campaigner, and her message of anger at immigrants, Europe and others resonates with that part of the electorate that feels their poor economic status is not their own fault.  At one point she was considered a possible second place finished, with her strength and Mr. Sarkozy’s weaknesses meaning he might not have even made the run-off round.

So if one allocates Ms. Le Pen’s votes to Mr. Sarkozy and the lef/moderate votes of other parties to Mr. Hollande one finds a France that is deeply divided between a center/right Mr. Sarkozy and a left-wing-trying-to-get-to-the-center/left Mr. Hollande.  For months Mr. Hollande has been considered a near shoo-in.  He is still the favorite as polls indicate some of Ms. Le Pen's voters will stay home in the next part of the election, but he is not guaranteed a victory.

One further note, had he not become embroiled in scandal and controversy the Socialist nominee would have almost certainly been Dominque Strauss-Kahn, and surely all of France, and the rest of the world must be breathing a great sign of relief that the horrific Mr. Strauss-Kahn is not in the running.  All of France should be grateful to America for the role it and an African immigrant played in keeping this insidious person from running for the Presidency of France.

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