France’s presidential election was the next big political event on the European agenda, and has been top of the news agenda for the past three months. Today the official results of the first round of voting were revealed.
The last two weeks of the election were an intense race. Among the four candidates in the running, only one leader of an established party, Francois Fillon of the centre right party Les Republicans, qualified for the first round. The three others were Jean-Luc Mélenchon, from the far-left party La France Insoumise, the liberal centrist and pro-European Emmanuel Macron and the far-right Front National candidate Marine Le Pen.
Although Macron and Le Pen were declining in popularity in the polls last week, they qualified for the first round with around 24% and 21.8% of the vote respectively, according to provisional French polls from broadcaster BFMTV. While the leading candidates’ electors were celebrating with European flags, Le Pen’s supporters were singing the national anthem « La Marseillaise ». Fillon and Mélenchon are both around 19% while the other traditional party candidate, the socialist Benoît Hamon, finished just above the 5%.
Already François Fillon and Benoît Hamon declared they will vote for Emmanuel Macron in order to counter Marine Le Pen, asking their electors to follow them. Still many main political french figures have yet to reveal who they will rally behind, such as Jean-Luc Mélenchon whose at the time of the first provisional results were still hoping for Le Pen’s percentage to go down and so qualified.
The election was a real media show. From the scandal which drowned Fillion’s campaign after it was found out that he paid his wife and children for fictive jobs within the French government, to Marine Le Pen legal issues with the European parliament, rumours also shadowed Macron’s campaign. Abstention was supposed to reach its highest level in fifty years. However, at this time it is predicted to be around 22%, just below 2012’s election.
Those results shows the current political tension and division within France. Indeed, none of the candidate gained more than 25% of the vote. One can conclude that whoever will win this election is going to have substantial difficulties when governing.
Also, for the first time in the Fifth Republic none of the conventional parties are present in the second round. This shows the demand for political renewal as Macron, founded his own party En Marche! just over a year ago. Moreover, populist parties and extremes far and right counted for around 40% of the overall vote.
Still, Macron, running for a new party, does not have a parliamentary majority and the same applies for Le Pen. Therefore whoever will become the new French president will need to win the legislative elections set in June. This could lead to government incapability to govern, political blocking and instability.
On the 7th, France will choose its new president and even though the polls showed Macron winning such a second run, everything is still possible.