The first round of the 2017 French presidential Election will be held on 23 April 2017 and the second round in May.
Following closely on the heels of Britain’s Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as US president, it will be interesting to see just what kind of politician France will choose for its new president.
Some simple election facts!
♦Voters must be French citizens aged 18 or over.
♦The election nearly always has two rounds because it is very unusual for any candidate to win an absolute majority, of 50 per cent of the vote plus one. Although this has never actually happened, Charles de Gaulle came the closest in 1965, when he won 44 per cent in the first round. The top two candidates from the first round will go through to the second.
♦Elections are always held on Sundays.
♦After the election, the new president will be sworn in, and live (or continue to live) in the Elysée Palace in Paris. In June, French voters will again go to the polls, this time to elect deputies (equivalent to members of parliament) which should in theory give the new president the majority he needs in Parliament ( l’Assemblée nationale)
The four main candidates this year are Francois Fillon (Republicains), Benoit Hamon (Socialists), Marine Le Pen (Front National) and Emmanual Macron (Independent).
Francois Fillon – Republican
Initially one of the favourites, this Thatcher fan, whose main promise is to cut down on France’s enormous ‘fonctionnaire’ pool, has been surrounded by scandal and controversy over past months, severely damaging his presidential chances. However, he is not out of the race yet.
Marine Le Pen – National Front
Daughter of holocaust denier Jean-Marie, National Front candidate and former lawyer Marine Le Pen has popularised the National Front in France with a softer approach to her father’s hard line policies. At present, she is being seen as a strong contender for the presidency, though experts say that whilst she might get through the first round, it is unlikely that she would win the second.
Emmanuel Macron – Centrist
Relative newcomer and founder of the new centrist party, En Marche (On the Move), Macron was advisor to president François Hollande .
He has called for a “democratic revolution” but as yet has not provided a game plan for going about it.
He describes himself as ‘neither of the Left or Right….but for France.’
Benoit Hamon – Socialist
Despite being eligible, present president François Hollande declined to run for a second term. Leadership of the party was taken over by ex-education minister, Hamon. He promises to reduce the working week to 32 hours. However, talented speaker Jean-Luc Mélenchon has recently gained popularity in the polls, and whilst he is unlikely to make it to the second round, he could well be placed in the first.
And some election vocabulary to help you to follow the news.
système électoral – voting system
élections présidentielles – election to choose the President
éléctions régionales – election to choose the regional council
élections municipales – election to choose the town/village council
Campagne électorale – election campaign
Bureau de vote – Polling stationVoter (pour/contre) – to vote for/against
Voter blanc – to cast a blank vote
Voter utile – to vote tactically
Voter à bulletin secret – to vote by secret ballot
Un vote – a vote
Electeur – a voter
Électeurs inscrits – registered voter
Bulletin de vote – ballot paper
Urne (de vote) – ballot box
Isoloir – polling booth
Se rendre aux urnes – to go to the poll
Dépouillement – Counting of votes
Carte d’électeur – voting card
Élire – to elect
Âge légal pour voter – voting age
Droit de vote – right to vote
Promesses électorales – campaign promises
Sondage d’opinion – opinion poll
Candidat – candidate
Circonscription – constituency
Premier tour – first ballot
Second tour – second ballot
Taux de participation – turnout at pools
Référendum – referendum
Élection partielle – by-election
Résultats – results
le taux d’abstention – abstention rate
Fraude électorale – election fraud
Réélection – re-election
Se présenter aux élections – to stand for election
Remporter les élections – to win the election
la politique – politics, policy
le politique – politician (or un homme/une femme politique)