The first round of the French Presidential elections is due to be held in 25 days (on 23rd April), with the likely second round two weeks later on 7th May. In many ways this is proving to be a unique election campaign but the centre-left Emmanuel Macron still comfortably leads National Front candidate Marine Le Pen in second round polls.
This in-depth four-part Election Series examines all core elements of the upcoming presidential and legislative elections and takes a quantitative and qualitative approach. In Part II, I tackle seven questions, looking at past presidential elections where appropriate:
Q1: Who are the presidential candidates?
Eleven candidates, spanning the breadth of the political spectrum, will officially contest the first round in a bid to capture the 46 million or so votes up for grabs. However, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen remain comfortably ahead in the polls on around 25%.
Q2: What are their relative strengths and weaknesses?
The recent televised debate between the top five candidates was high calibre, in my view, and the front-runners have in recent months shown clear strengths…but also weaknesses.
Q3: What are the odds of a candidate winning an absolute majority in the first round?
No candidate has ever obtained more than 50% of the popular vote in the first round. This time looks no different and a second round is a near certainty based on latest polls.
Q4: Does the number of sponsors have a bearing on first round results?
The relationship is tenuous but does suggest that Le Pen will fail to win the presidency.
Q5: Does the number of candidates have a bearing on first round results?
The large number of candidates points to the winner and runner-up of the first round winning only just over half of the votes, broadly in line with recent opinion polls.
Q6: Does the first round result have a bearing on the outcome of the second round?
Precedent suggests that a small margin of victory in the first round makes the second round outcome harder to predict. This year’s election could prove a break with the past.
Q7: Does it matter who came third or fourth in the first round?
It has on a few occasions but assuming that Fillon comes third and the left-wing candidates fourth and fifth, polls point to a convincing Macron win versus le Pen in the second round.
Read The Ultimate Guide to the 2017 French Elections – Part II in full on my website.