Changiging presidents - 2012
About-France.com

Presidential election 2017

About -France.com - A thematic guide to France




About- France com About-France for desktops French grammar A Dictionary of France
logo
Presidential elections 2017
  The About-France.com thematic guide to France   - French institutions, society, travel and tourism.

A guide to the French presidential election, 2017


Click here for an overview of political parties in France

On this page The electoral system Background Uncharted territory
Emmanuel Macron
Presidential hopeful Emmanuel Macron
UPDATE: 22nd March. The French presidential election campaign is in turmoil, as it looks increasingly as though neither of the candidates representing the two major tranditional parties, the Socialists on the left and the Republicans ont he right, will make it through to the second round. This looks likely to be a runoff between populist far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, and independent centre-left candidate Emmanuel Macron – leading to a clear Macron victory in the second round.
  Socialist party candidate Benoît Hamon is faring  poorly in the polls, as centrist Socialist voters and party members turn towards Macron; and the official Conservative alliance candidate is François Fillon under investigation for a string of financial irregularities.
   However, almost each day brings its new surprises, and on 20th March President Hollande's interior minister Bruno Leroux was forced to resign after accusations similar to those made against Fillon - namely that he paid his teenage children for fictitious jobs as his parliamentary assistants. Marine le Pen, too, is facing charges of misappropriation of funds – though unlike Fillon and Leroux she has claimed parliamentary immunity.

UPDATE: 22nd February.  Emmanuel Macron has received a boost to his campaign from centre-right leader François Bayrou. Bayrou, leader of the Democratic Movement (MoDem) announced today that he would not be standing for the presidency. He was credited with up to 5% of voting intentions. Most of these voters are likely to now support Macron.
 UPDATE: 5th February.  Former outsider Emmanuel Macron  looks increasingly like the front-runner to challenge far-right populist candidate Marine Le Pen in the second round of the Presidential election. Accusations of financial irregularities have taken a serious toll on the ratings of the conservative candidate François Fillon ; 39-year old Macron is seeming more and more like the candate most capable of uniting enough voters to ensure second (or maybe even first) place in the first round of the election. With credentials that include both being a liberalising finance minister in Hollande's Socialist government, and being a former merchant banker with Rothschilds, Macron has the potential to draw in a broad spectrum of voters ranging from the centre left to the centre right.
  However - and this is a big however - it remains far from clear how things will go in the first round of voting, now only two and a half months away.  If the left-winger Benoît Hamon, who surprisingly won the Socialist party primary,  can unite enough of the left wing behind him to pull off second place in the first round,  the runoff on May 7th would see French voters having to choose in the second round between a far left candidate and a far right National Front candiate, Marine Le Pen ... which all those in the middle would see as a nightmare scenario.
  The resulting runoff would land France with a lame-duck president from his or her first day in office.  The Presidential election is followed, a month later, by legislative (general) elections in which neither the far left nor the far right could possibly win a majority, on account of the electoral system which, as for the presidential election, involves two rounds of voting. In second rounds, voters tend to vote against the candidate they like least, making it hard for candidates from the far left or the far right to get elected.

UPDATE: 30 January.  Far left candidate Benoît Hamon has won nomination as the candidate of the Socialist alliance in the upcoming Presidential election. Hamon defeated former PM Manuel Valls in the second round runoff of the primary election to choose the Socialist candidate.
  Hamon's victory leaves the Socialist party, currently in power under president Hollande, facing infighting at the coming presidential elections which will see two far left candidates, Hamon and  his former colleague Arnaud Montebourg, both former Socialist ministers, running against each other in the first round.
   With current front-runner and Republican party candidate François Fillon now fighting off accusations of financial fraud (see update 26th Jan below), the chief beneficiary of Hamon's victory is likely to be Emmanuel Macron, Hollande's former finance minister. Hamon is standing as an anti-establishment independent, and is now likely to appear as the only remaining candidate representing the centre left.
UPDATE: 26 January.   François Fillon's campaign in turmoil. Satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchâiné has claimed that Fillon's wife Penelope was paid 500,000 € over 8 years for a fictitious job as her husband's parliamentary assistant.  While there is nothing illegal in parliamentarians hiring family members as secretaries or assistants, and at least 50 French MPs employ their wives, the fact that Penelope Fillon was highly paid for a job that nobody seemed to know about is alarming,  because in the past Fillon has always said that his wife kept out of politics.
  Fillon strongly denies any wrongdoing, and judges are now investigating the claims. Fillon has announced that if charged with any offence, he will withdraw from the presidential race. If this happens the Republicans' election campaign will be back to square one. Alain Juppé, who was the runner up in the Republican primary, has excluded reentering the race in place of Fillon.

UPDATE: 23 January.   Manuel Valls (former prime minister) and Benoît Hamon are the two candidates through to the runoff in the Socialist primary due on Jan 29th. The runoff will present a clear choice between a left-wing candidate (Hamon) and a centrist (Valls). Mathematically, Hamon should win, as he and the other left-wing candidate Arnaud Montebourg, garnered 54% of the vote in the first round. This situation is similar to the one that saw Jeremy Corbyn chosen to lead Britain's Labour Party, though he was not the preferred candidate of the majority of Labour MPs..
UPDATE: 27th November.   François Fillon  has won the primary of the Centre and right, and will be their candidate in the 2017 election.
UPDATE:  2nd December.  François Hollande has announced that he will not stand for a second term in office.

WILL MARINE LE PEN BE THE NEXT FRENCH PRESIDENT ?

Short answer: NO ! It is virtually impossible !  She is expected to be one of the two candidates to make it through to the second round, but with a 71% disapproval rating (a large part of which could be called an abhorrence rating), there is no way that she could beat the other candidate who makes it into the runoff.  Unless..... No, there just isn't an "unless".  A majority of French voters would vote for anyone, even for Mickey Mouse, if he were the sole alternative to a candidate from the Front National.  
  UK Brexiteers who dream of the French electing a candidate who will implement a Frexit are just not in touch with the reality of the French political system, nor of the mindset of French voters.   Marine Le Pen is not Donald Trump, nor is she Brexit. Trump managed to win because he was the candidate of the conservative Republican Party... not an outsider; and in the UK people voted for Brexit because it was championed by big shots from the Conservative party, not just by UKIP. Marine le Pen is a different case altogether : she does not have the support of any mainstream political party in France, except her own party the Front National.
   For a while, it seemed likely that the next French president would be François Fillon, who besides being an Anglophile, an admirer of Margaret Thatcher, and having a British wife, is also a neo-Gaullist who has pledged to make the French economy competitive again, taking the drastic measures required to do so. This will include cutting bureaucracy, cutting taxes and regulations on business, and making France "a good place to do business".  But in January Fillon became bogged down in a financial scandal.
   The other potential winner, Emmanuel Macron, is also an economic reformer who made a start pushing through some important economic reforms as President Hollande's finance minister.
   With the UK pledged to leave the EU, the opportunities for attracting business from London to Paris will be enormous. At present, in 2017, with the Socialist regime in France and the UK still in the EU, few international companies would consider moving their EU operations from London to Paris – as has been much remarked in the pro-Brexit UK media (though HSBC has already said it will do so).  But in the course of 2017, the relative advantages and disadvantages of Britain and France for international companies are liable to be considerably changed, if not turned upside down.
  Come summer 2017 Marine le Pen will not be dragging France towards an inward-looking Frexit; quite the reverse – France will  probably be embarking on a deregulating "liberal" revolution... just when impending Brexit is making many international firms reconsider the extent of their operations in non-EU Britain.  No wonder many in France are saying that Brexit will be a golden opportunity.... for France ;  all other things being equal, there are many world business leaders who would love to live and work in Paris rather than London.

The electoral system:

   As for most elections in France, presidential elections are conducted in two stages.
The first round, which takes place on 23rd April, is open to any candidate who meets the requirements (which include the written support of five hundred elected representatives, including mayors and deputies) and has enough funding.
   Assuming, as is virtually certain to happen, that no single candidate acquires an absolute majority of votes on the first round, there is then a second round, a fortnight later, which is a  runoff between the two candidates with the most votes in the first round. The next President of France will be whoever gets a simple majority of the votes in the second round.
The current president, François Hollande, a socialist, was elected in 2012 . A president can serve no more than two five-year terms in office.

Background to the 2017 election

The 2017 Presidential election in France is likely to be the most significant for many years.
For the last two decades, candidates for the French presidency have been promising to make changes and get the French economy back and working properly again; but for the last two decades, the promises made at elections have not led to much fundamental change.
  President Sarkozy (a conservative) promised sweeping reforms when he became President in 2007, but little came of them, apart from a reform of the retirement age in France which was pushed through against a background of strident complaints from the political opposition and from the Unions. And even that reform was watered down.
  Sarkozy's unpopularity led to the victory of his Socialist opponent François Hollande in 2012. Hollande promised to cut France's endemically high unemployment rate, and get the economy growing again. But if he has just got the economy back into positive territory, he has failed dismally on the unemployment front, and the number of jobless in France today is far higher than it was when he took office.
  Hollande is now the most unpopular French president since the Second World War, with approval ratings hovering below the 20% mark. His Socialist party is now bitterly divided between the moderate reformers and the hard-line left; and by trying to please both wings of his party, Hollande has  managed to displease almost everyone. In January 2017, realising that he had no chance of being reelected, Hollande became the first  president of the Firth Republic to not run for a second term.
   It was possibly a premature move...  He could not have predicted the scandal that would, in late January, engulf the then front-runner, the conservative candidate François Fillon.

The 2017 election - uncharted territory

  The 2017 election will take place in a world that is very different from just a year ago. Right-wing populism has triumphed in the UK with Brexit, and in the USA with Donald Trump, and in France the right-wing populists of the National Front, led by Marine Le Pen, are dreaming of power.
  The trouble for them is that France is not the UK nor the USA, and with its two rounds of voting,  the French electoral system has safeguards built into it to prevent populists and demagogues from sweeping to power.  Six months before a  momentous Presidential election, no-one in France would wager much money on who the next president will be; on the other hand, it is a pretty safe bet that it will not be Marine le Pen, even if she does make it into the runoff, as her father did in 2002.
   The reason?  Marine le Pen's personal popularity rating stands (January 2017) at just 23% – and her unpopularity rate at 71%  (Ipsos / Le Point monthly poll).  Even if she reaches the second round of the Presidential election, which she may well do, she cannot win, because a large majority of those 71% of French electors are so viscerally opposed to her and her party that they will vote for anyone but le Pen – just as happened in 2002.

  For the time being - late Jan 2017 - pundits expect Marine le Pen to make it into the second round of the election; but even that is not certain, and who her opponent will be remains uncertain.  A possible scenario is that her opponent in the second round, if she gets there, will be the winner of the Centre-right alliance primary election, François Fillon, who was Sarkozy's Prime Minister.  Nicolas Sarkozy  only take third place in the first round of the primary, and so has been eliminated.
    On the left, Hollande's decision not to stand for a second term left the door open for his Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, to throw his hat into the ring; but that assumed that Valls would be victorious in the Socialist primary. In the end, he failed, and voters instead chose Benoît Hamon, the furthest to the left of the seven candidates who took part in the primary. This is bad news for the Socialist party, as Hamon will be up against at least three other candidates on the left, Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the Parti de Gauche,  Hollande's former economy minister Emmanuel Macron, and a Green party candidate. However of the four, only Macron appeals to the centre ground, so Hamon's win in the Socialist primary has boosted Macron's chances of making it into the second round of the presidential election
  Macron has long been seen as the joker in the pack. A former Rothschilds banker, he was Hollande's economic advisor and then Minister of the economy, but he is not a party member. He is standing as a candidate for change, another anti-system  candidate; and he has supporters across the political spectrum. It is by no means clear if his candidacy will mainly just fragment the left-wing vote, or whether he could actually, as  another anti-system candidate, also drain votes away from Marine le Pen. 
   Apart from Marine Le Pen, either Fillon or Macron is now seen as the most likely person to make it through to the second round; but Fillon will find it hard to recover from the accusation of financial irregularities that are dogging his campaign. And can he keep ahead of Macron? If  Macron can take votes not just from his supporters on the left but also from the centre ground, he could well push Fillon into third place; but if Macron and Hamon can also take votes from Marine le Pen, we may see a Fillon - Macron runoff in the second round....  a new and unconventional variation on the classic right - left duel.
   With so many candidates running in the first round, none is likely to take more than about 26% of the vote.... and the second-past-the-post could make it through to the second round with as little as 20% of the vote.  Unless a clear second-runner emerges from the pack between February and the end of April, and assuming that Marine Le Pen does not lose her supporters (which is unlikely), it will remain very difficult to predict who her opponent in the second round will be.
   We will probably have a much clearer view by mid March, as the polls in France tend to be a lot more effective in predicting results than those in the UK or the USA.
   The Presidential elections take place on  April 23rd and May 7th 2017.
    As of January 2017, the  bookies' favourite to become the next President of France remains François Fillon.

Who is François Fillon ?

The post below was written before François Fillon's election hopes were severely dented by revelations in the French media of financial irregularities. Fillon's wife Penelope has been the subject of intense media scrutiny over allegations that she was in the past paid large sums of money as Fillon's assistant, while doing nothing to justify any such payments. 
  In the latest allegations, it is also claimed that she was paid 46,000 € as a severance payment, when she stopped working for her husband at the National Assembly. And not only was she paid this sum after doing a job that she always claimed she never did; she was actually paid it twice.
  How much of all this is fake news?  Time will tell. Fillon has denied all accusations of impropriety;  but the damage is already done, and his popularity has plummeted in public opinion ratings.
  Are Fillon's accusers, like those of Hillary Clinton, being unwittingly manipulated by internal or external forces wanting to help a different candidate win the presidential election?  Speculation is rife.

Fillon
was Prime Minister of France from 2007 to 2012, during the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy.  He previously served as a minister in the governments of Edouard Balladur,  Alain Juppé and Jean-Pierre Raffarin. In this respect, he can hardly be seen as "new blood".  However he has a reputation as a reformer. In 2003 he made a first serious attempt to reform France's much-criticized retirement laws, by bringing public sector retirement rules in line with those governing the private sector.
  In 2004-2005, as education minister, he pushed through, in the face of considerable hostility, a reform of the French Baccalaureat.
  As Prime Minister under Nicolas Sarkozy, he was somewhat in the shadows of the man people described as the "hyper-president". Sarkozy was the conductor and the first violin of the orchestra of government; the role of Prime Minister became that of second fiddle. In 2010 he resigned as Prime Minister, but was promptly reappointed by Sarkozy who wanted to bring Alain Juppé back into the government. Juppé would not serve under those competing for Fillon's post, so to bring on board Juppé and his many supporters, Sarkozy had to reappoint Fillon.  
   In 2011, with France struggling to reduce its deficits, Fillon announced an exceptional tax on high incomes and more duty on alcohol cigarettes and sugary drinks.
   After Sarkozy lost the 2012 election, Fillon was favourite to become chairman of the conservative UMP party; but in an election marked by acrimony and accusation of fraud he lost. The narrow victory of Jean-François Copé was upheld, and the UMP became a machine designed ultimately to get Sarkozy reelected as president in 2017 – a mission in which it has failed.
  Copé's apparent involvement in shady party financing deals with a dubious company known as Bygmalion left many UMP members bitter. To try and forget the past, Sarkozy engineered a rebranding of the party under a new name, Les Républicains, and Fillon was largely a bystander.
  However he remained popular with grass-roots party members, and maintained a high popularity rating among French voters in general. When in 2013 he announced that he would stand in the 2016 primary of the Centre-right alliance (Les Républicains and their allies), few people thought he would stand a chance, given the power of the Sarkozy fighting machine ; but with Sarkozy still linked to accusations of shady party funding in 2012, and seen to be moving increasingly to the right, Fillon began to look like a stronger contender. There was just the problem of Juppé.
   71-year old Juppé remains popular too, and until a week before the first round of the centre-right primary, he seemed the clear front-runner in the race to secure a place in second round, for a runoff against Sarkozy. Then Fillon gave a very strong performance in the second candidates' debate on prime-time national TV, and he was in the race with a chance. Nobody however predicted that he would romp home in the first round of the primary with a lead of 16% over his closest rival Juppé.

  So why did he win ? And what does he offer?

  He won largely because he has a reputation as a reformer and as an honest politician (the two words are not always incompatible). The Centre-right primary was open to all voters, not just party members, so Fillon picked up a large proportion of the votes from ordinary moderate voters determined to ensure that the candidate of the Centre-right in the 2017 Presidential election was not Nicolas Sarkozy.
   As a candidate for the Presidency, he is promising major liberalising reforms to the French economy and tax system, more reform of pension rules, and the suppression of half a million public sector jobs. And on past showing, he has the determination to push them through.
   In France, one of the criticisms that has been much leveled at him in recent months is that he is an admirer of the legacy of Margaret Thatcher. Now while in the UK there has been, with hindsight, a general consensus to the effect that the reforms of the Thatcher period were fundamentally instrumental in getting the British economy back on the rails, this is not the case in France. In France to this day "le thatcherisme" is still caricatured or condemned by a large part of the political class and the media as being a dictatorial doctrine rather similar to American neo-conservatism, and thus highly undesirable; Fillon has not jumped on this bandwaggon.
     In many ways he is politically on the same wavelength as David Cameron; and unlike some recent French PMs, he is an anglophile. Indeed, if Fillon becomes the next French president, France will get its first "British" French first lady. Fillon's wife, Penelope  was born in Llanover, Monmouthshire, of Welsh English parents.

After the presidential elections.
  The new President will be sworn in and will announce his team. Then, on 11th and 18th June, come the two rounds of the legislative elections (parliamentary elections) to choose the Deputies who will sit in the National Assembly.
   If, as seems probable, the new President is the candidate of the conservative and centrist alliance,  François Fillon, voters are then likely to vote in a centre-right parliament, and the new President will be able to govern with little effective opposition. His government will then introduce fairly rapidly some of the radical reforms that France desperately needs : economic reforms,  labour law reforms, fiscal reforms, etc.
   If, on the other hand, the candidate of the conservative and centrist alliance were to be eliminated in the first round of the presidential election, then the future is much harder to predict. About the only prediction that can be made is that in this situation, the new President is likely to be a lame duck from day 1. Neither the Socialist party nor the National Front are currently in a position to win a parliamentary election, even if their man or woman were to win the Presidential race.  There just remains the joker in the pack, Emmanuel Macron. As a "non political" candidate, he might be able to work with a moderate parliamentary majority from either side of the house.  But we are getting now very much into the realms of politics fiction.


Archives:
The 2007 French presidential election.
The 2012 Fench presidential election 
   

Copyright notice: Text & images © About-France.com 2003 - 2017  except where otherwise stated

To contact About-France.com, use the contact form


Photo top of page. 2012 - President Hollande takes over from President Sarkozy


►► Site guide
About-France.com home
Full site index
About-France.com site search
►► Principal chapters on About-France.com :
Guide to the regions of France
Beyond Paris, a guide to the French regions and their tourist attractions.
Guide to Paris
Make the most of your trip to Paris; Information on attractions, Paris hotels, transport,  and lots more. 
Accommodation in France
The different options, including hotels, holiday gites, b&b, hostels and more
Tourism in France
The main tourist attractions and places to visit in France - historic monuments, art galleries, seasides, and more
Planning a trip to France 
Information on things to do before starting your trip to France.
Driving in France 
Tips and useful information on driving in and through France - motorways, tolls, where to stay.... 
Maps of France
Cities, towns, departments, regions, climate, wine areas and other themes.
The French way of life 
A mine of information about life and living in France, including working in France, living in France, food and eating, education, shopping.
A-Z dictionary of France
Encyclopedic dictionary of modern France - key figures, institutions, acronyms, culture, icons, etc.
►► related topics
The French legal system
The French health-care system
Education in France
Working in France
The French economy




Map of France

Photo top of page.  by  Cyclotron.
Photo of Emmanuel Macron by Leweb.
Both Creative Commons licenced photos

 





?