The first round of the French Presidential elections is due to be held in 47 days, with the likely second round two weeks later. There has already been much drama in a presidential campaign that has caught the world’s imagination.
The two-round election for the 577 deputies of the lower house of parliament on 11th and 18th June, which has so far received little attention, will complete the political picture in France.
There are currently eighteen presidential candidates spanning the breadth of the political spectrum, from the far-left to the far-right. Political jostling is in full swing with candidates forming alliances in a bid to capture the 46 million or so votes up for grabs in round one.
The National Front’s Marine Le Pen, currently ahead in the polls for the first round on around 27%, is looking to go one step further than her father Jean-Marie Le Pen and become the first ever French female president. She is currently under investigation for misappropriation of EU funds and publication of violent images.
The centre-left candidate Emmanuel Macron, aged 39, is second in the polls on around 25%. He is vying to become the first centrist president since Valéry Giscard d’Estaing in 1974, the first independent candidate to become France’s head of state and the youngest ever President under the Fifth Republic.
Republican candidate François Fillon, who comfortably won the party primaries, is third in the polls on around 20% despite the probability that he will face formal charges on 15th March of misappropriation of parliamentary funds.
President de Gaulle, in a nod to the heterogeneity of the French electorate, famously asked how it was possible to govern a country where 258 varieties of cheese exist. This granular political landscape makes it that much harder to predict with any certainty the successor to incumbent President François Hollande who has opted not to run for a second term.
This in-depth four-part Election Series will examine all core elements of the upcoming presidential and legislative elections and take both a quantitative and qualitative approach.
The material, organised in easy-to-access questions and answers, will ultimately try to answer the key question of who will be President and Prime Minister and how this will impact France, Europe and financial markets. The British decision to leave the EU and US presidential elections have fuelled the notion that anything is possible.
In Part I, I examine the importance of French presidential and legislative elections, their mechanics and timelines and the implications of a potentially high voter turnout.