Paris Insight: French presidential election: an overview of the first round’s results and challenges

by Véronique Queffélec on avril 23, 2012


The left block far ahead from the right one

The strategy of the Socialist candidate starts as planned. He won the first round with 28,6% of the votes, less than 2 points ahead of Nicolas Sarkozy (27,2 %). This is the first presidential election that registers such a weak score for the Right (extreme Right excluded), a non-surprise that confirms the “anti-sarkozyst” movement advocated all along the campaign.
The scores of the left candidates total up 43.8% of votes when the right stays behind with a difference of more than 5 points (38.2%), a differential which could prove decisive: to win, the incumbent president must assemble most of the voters of the Centre and the extreme Right, a very complicated gamble…

Le Pen’s score exceeds his father

The real surprise yesterday was the result of Marine Le Pen, who is credited with almost 18% of the votes. A much higher score than expected and than the one obtained by his father in 2002 (16.86%). She does not qualify for the second round, but will have a determinant influence on the results.

The surveys indicate that 60 % of her votes would go for Sarkozy and 18% for Hollande, while 22% would abstain. But this swap of Le Pen voters in favor of Sarkozy has significantly changed in recent days (45% for Sarkozy and 43% of abstention according to an Ipsos survey on April 18-19 th), thus highlighting the uncertainty (if not the underestimation) of those numbers. The next turning point should be on the 1st of May when she’ll publicly express her view on the second round.

Mélenchon far from the 3rd place

Jean-Luc Melenchon had wished to beat Le Pen in the battle for third place, but he failed. With only 11,1% of the votes, he is as far from the scores promised by the polls as Marine Le Pen is ahead. His main satisfaction is that he made the two-digit score he had set when he started the campaign.
According to the polls, 86% of Jean-Luc Mélenchon voters would support Francois Hollande for the second round while 11% would abstain, and 1% would vote for Nicolas Sarkozy. Right after the results, Jean-Luc Mélenchon clearly asked his followers to “mobilize to beat Nicolas Sarkozy”, without asking for any negotiation or deal with Hollande.

The centrist candidate is the real looser of the first round.

François Bayrou (Modem) failed to reach the symbolic number of 10% of votes. Not really a surprising number for a candidate that lead a outsider campaign, but a deceiving one for the candidate who almost reached the second round in 2007 with 18,7% of the votes.
Back then, 40 % of his voters supported Sarkozy, 40% the PS and 20% abstained. This time, a similar scenario is likely to occur in terms of consequences : Francois Bayrou voters would be divided into thirds, one third for Francois Hollande (33%), one third for Nicolas Sarkozy (32%) and 35% of abstention.

The game of strategy for alliances has begun.

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