Events on Campus, International Politics

French Election Primer!

This Wednesday at 7:30 CPU and The French Cultural Society are holding a informal discussion on the French Elections in the IAB. It’s a deeply fascinating subject because these elections will shape the balance of power throughout Europe for five years. But if you aren’t up to date with France’s politics this might be all news to you. Well never fear Pub goers, we’ve broken it down for you. So sit back, grab your favorite French import to snack on, and join us on a brief tour de French electoral politics.

Nicolas Sarkozy is the incombent president of France. In 2007 he won in his race against Socialist Party candidate Ségolène Royal for his first five year term as president. But his Union for a Popular Movement (UPM, center-right) wasn’t just running against the Socialist Party. Twelve parties ran in France’s 2007 presidential election. See, in France voting works differently than in the United States. Instead of one big election there are two rounds, one in April and one in May. If no party received more than 50% of the vote in the first round, then the top two candidates go head to head in round two. That allows for France to have a larger amount of political parties, and ideally a more fluid political system. It also means that parties one might consider fringe groups, such the National Front who’s main platform is preventing Muslim immigration, can be very successful in the first round. This happened in 2002 when Jean-Marie Le Pen of the National Front won second place in the first round with only 16.86% of the votes, only to be trounced by Jacques Chirac in the second round.

Nicolas Sarkozy

Sarkozy didn’t win his second round in 2007 nearly as easily as Chirac did, partially due to his opponent not being a far-right radical. His presidency was marked by some early successes, especially in environmental policy (Columbia even ranked France as the most environmentally respectful out of all the G20). But Sarkozy’s popularity has waned. He’s to liberal for the right who supported him and still to conservative for the left to adopt him. He also has a nasty habit of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, with several gaffs during his presidency that have been criticized as either racist, intolerant, elitist, or some combination of the above. Once he even tried to convince people that he was present during the fall of the Berlin Wall by posting a doctored photo on Facebook. All that plus a struggling economy after the global economic turndown doesn’t give Sarkozy much momentum going into the race.

François Hollande

This is where the Socialist Party steps back in. With excitement lacking for Sarkozy and his UPM party, the Socialist Party has taken the opportunity to try and woo the French public. During Sarkozy’s first term Dominique Strauss Kahn (often simply referred to as DSK) became a very popular socialist leader and began to be seen as a possible presidential contender. However due to accusations of sexual assault of a maid in a New York hotel, DSK no longer was politically viable (even though all charges were dropped). So François Hollande stepped up as the French Socialist Party’s presidential candidate. Hollande used to be the domestic partner of Ségolène Royal (Sarkozy’s 2007 opponent), but they separated shortly after her defeat. His platform is focusing on the economy, especially increasing taxes on the rich and creating jobs. Unlike Sarkozy he also supports the legalization of gay marriage and adoption, and a less harsh immigration system.

marine le pen

Marine Le Pen

The other major contender in the race is Marine Le Pen, daughter of  Jean-Marie Le Pen and president of the National Front. She’s had a large media presence, appealing to conservatives who have grown tired of Sarkozy and who are strongly anti-immigration. Going into the first round of voting, which toook place just yesterday, it seems that Le Pen has failed to steal a position from the top two candidates, acquiring 18.01% of the vote. Hollande currently has the lead with 28.63% with Sarkozy close behind with 27.08%. But this is only round one and round two won’t be decided until May 6. Most polls predict a victory for Hollande, which would make Sarkozy the first president not to serve a second term in 30 years, ironic since Sarkozy’s 2007 platform was about limiting the president to only two terms. Whether Sarkozy gets a shot at a second term, or if his days Élysée Palace (seriously, that’s an opulent presidencial residence) are done, will be decided in the second round of voting.

Can’t wait to see what happens next? Then come on down Wednesday, 7:30 to the IAB and hear from our esteemed panel: Laurence Clerfeuille,  Kevin Cormier-Ribout, Mikå Mered, Corinne Narassiguin and Emmanuel Saint-Martin. It’s (admittedly French) history in the making!

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12 thoughts on “French Election Primer!

  1. Anonymous says:

    Good summary. But never count Sarkozy out. He is not popular and yet gets elected. Marine Le Pen numbers are embarrassment for France.

    • Anonymous says:

      An embarrassment, really! The Muslin population in Europe is like a fifth column, they resist integration, demand reconciliation, and have very large families – traditional Europe is at a crossroads and any solution will not be pretty.

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t know about the cloth population but those Muslims seem to be swarming over the Banlieues. How long until will it be until France is acting out Jean Raspail’s Camp of the Saints? France lost herself when the monarchy was overthrown in favour of mindless universalism and brotherhood. Say what you like about Marshall Pétain, but he did attempt to restore some traditional idea of France.

        • Anonymous says:

          I hope this is tongue-in-cheek comment. Petain of Vichy, a Nazi collaborator and traditional idea of France?
          Egalite, Liberte, Fraternite to you all.

          • Anonymous says:

            Travail, famille, patrie!
            More French were killed by Allied bombs than Hitler. The French resistance was full of communists who murdered civilians. Abbé Perrot, Philippe Henriot, Robert Denoël, were slaughtered among other. They executed people for collaboration indiscriminately, phone operators, women who had German boyfriends, doctors, etc. They robbed Louis-Ferdinand Celine’s house and forced him to flee. They executed Brasillach for “intellectual crimes.” So much for democracy, killing men for thought crime! Laval, who had actually shielded many people from the Nazis, was shot.

            Read Castle to Castle, North, and Rigadoon by Celine and then say how pleasant the Allied “liberators” were.

        • Anonymous says:

          “Camp of the Saints” is a pretty intolerant novel. In the 21st century multiculturalism is a thing. Deal with it.

          • Anonymous says:

            Multiculturalism is merely a mental disorder of Western Man, blithering Lockean blockheads who assume they can draw their perfect image onto the tabula rasa of humanity. Japan does not entertain such delusions, neither does China. Outside of Europe and America, no other nations are throwing open the flood gates and saying “come on in, there is room for you!”

        • Alexandra says:

          Woah. Muslims are “swarming” all over the banlieues because they were solicited to be there as laborers by the French government after colonial independence, then kept there by documented socioeconomic disenfranchisement and discrimination. Let’s not get carried away with charges of Muslim hostility to the French Republic.

          • Anonymous says:

            Yes, let’s not get carried away with the French Republic’s betrayal of its own population, the French shouldn’t be angry that they are being replaced by people who are incredibly different, especially in tough economic conditions and high unemployment. That it took years for the French general population to notice, speaks volumes about the attitude of censorship and national self-debasement that was imposed upon Europe in the wake of the Second World War. Quelle Liberation!

  2. Jocelyne Bastillette says:

    Me voilà franchement désapointée.J’ai voté pour François Hollande pour la présidentielle car je voulais croire ai changement tel qu’il était annoncé et à d’un gouvernement irréprochable. Quelle trahison de voir que François Hollande fait le choix en premier ministre Jean Marc Ayrault, qui n’est clairement pas irréprochable ! Il a quand même était condamné à 6 mois de prison pour magouille de favoritisme ! Vraiment décue….

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