French Elections

Another French Disaster

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Following the defeat of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, all eyes are on France’s upcoming presidential election in April and May, where a victory for far-right candidate Marine Le Pen could spell disaster for European democracy.

  • Facts


    • A public opinion poll by Odoxa indicates that some 75 percent of French voters want to see former front-runner François Fillon, whose campaigne is plagued by corruption scandals, drop out of the race.
    • According to a survey published by Le Figaro, independent candidate Emmanuel Macron is currently polling even at 26 percent with far-right Front National candidate Marine Le Pen.
    • In France, candidates are pitted against each other twice. The first round of the vote will be on April 23, after which the top two  candidates face each other in a run-off on May 7.
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Former French prime minister Manuel Valls reacts after partial results in the second round of the French left’s presidential primary election in Paris
Manuel Valls was the former prime minister of France from 2014 – 2016. A member of the Socialist Party, he has nevertheless refused to support the party’s presidential nominee, Benoît Hamon. Photo: Reuters

The “Hunger Games” aspect of this French election cycle began on the left: While President François Hollande was brought down by his own Socialist Party, his prime minister, Manuel Valls, became the second course at the cannibals’ banquet.

By then, the corpse of one of France’s two major parties, no longer merely supine, had reached an advanced state of decomposition. Now, at the very moment when one might expect a presidential candidate to tell the nation what he thinks of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and Islamic radicals, the wan Socialist candidate Benoît Hamon has found nothing better to talk about than red sludge, endocrine disruptors and legalizing marijuana.

On the right, the disaster is now just cresting. Early on, former president Nicolas Sarkozy was eliminated. Former Prime Minister Alain Juppé, after being crowned the virtual president for much of last year, was toppled by those who had adored him. And in the wake of the scandal surrounding François Fillon, the Republican nominee and the man who defeated him, Mr. Juppé lost his nerve and on March 6 definitively quit the race.

Mr. Fillon, once the clear frontrunner and the choice of four million primary voters, has now brought forth the spectacle of a party of mutineers seeking to nudge him out of the race. Schemes, evasions, calculations, and bargains multiply – all based on polls interpreted by the political equivalents of astrologists. Another corpse.

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