French politics

A new campaign begins

The first round of the French presidential race gave his verdict with important points, the last Sunday.

First, a more important turnout than expected with a-80%-rate, which it is a little bit less compared with 2007 but much better compared with 2002. This is a sign the poll finally interested more people it was thought.

François Hollande gets more 28% of the polls. It is the best performance ever made by a socialist candidate since 1988, allowing an impulsion for the coming run-off. This impulsion is reinforced by the political support of Eva Joly, the Greens Candidate and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the Front de Gauche candidate who called his supporters to vote for Hollande in spite of a very less important result (11.7% of the polls) than expected.

The François Hollande result is also a severe rejection for Nicolas Sarkozy who gets the lowest result for the republican right in France (only 27% of the polls). Moreover, he is placed in second position, which is the first time for an outgoing president running for his re-election. This situation, quite new, is certainly complicating the task for a difficult run-off because of the good electoral performance of Marine Le Pen.

Indeed, with 18% of the polls, the far-right leader makes a performance similar to her father ten years ago. Thanks to her result, the Front national president seems to inevitable if Nicolas Sarkozy wants to win which supposes to seduce the FN voters explicitly even if it means adopting a vey rightist strategy as in the US and Canada. This strategy is quite risky insofar as the François Bayrou electorate (who made 9% of the polls) may be more reluctant to support Sarkozy, preferring to back François Hollande, considered as more moderate and rallying person in fine. In other words, Nicolas Sarkozy should snatch the Marine Le Pen and the François Bayrou voters to win with sufficient parts. How to make such a performance without delivering a double-speech, nonetheless?

The first round anyway indicates a double rejection for the outgoing president who has to be faced with his contradictions, even if it means questioning his strategy and political line. That explains why François Hollande seemed to be confident for the run-off, the socialist candidate winning it according to the latest surveys. Nonetheless, the election is still open and seems to be more competed than announced even if the socialist leader has clearly a psychological advantage on Nicolas Sarkozy who has to seduce the Marine Le Pen electorate, being aware of the fact this electorate considers having been cheated in 2007. This is a very big and risky challenge which may damage the cohesion of the current presidential party and awake some guiding spirits of the French republican right, because of the strong pressure of the far right.

So, a new campaign begins and is going to be more uncertain with two clear and opposed stakes for Hollande and Sarkozy: for the socialist candidate, demonstrating he gets the impulsion and embodies the alternative taking into account the fears of some Frenchs (which also explains why the socialist party should be sensitive vis-à-vis the Marine Le Pen voters). For Sarkozy, making a synthesis between the Marine Le Pen and Bayrou voters which clearly is an uncomfortable challenge with important risks.