Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande will face off for the French Presidency on May 6th after neither passed the 50 per cent winning mark in yesterday’s first round.
Hollande looks the favourite, winning the first round 28.6% to Sarkozy’s 27.1%, giving him the momentum going into the two-week run-off. Fascist Marine Le Pen came third on 18.1% – the Front National’s largest ever presidential vote share – with far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon fourth on 12% and centrist François Bayrou fifth on 9%.
Where the voters of the bottom eight candidates vote now will be crucial. Melenchon has urged all his supporters to unconditionally back Hollande, while Le Pen is remaining silent on who her backers should now support.
Although yesterday’s vote reflected recent polls, in the past they have been inaccurate, particularly in predicting support for the Front National as voters do not like to publicly declare the agree with the far right party. This is what partly led to the surprise of Jean-Marie Le Pen edging out the Socialist candidate to enter the second round in 2002.
It is an unexpected achievement that Hollande is set to become the next Socialist president of France. The unlikely candidate replaced Dominique Strauss-Kahn after his sex scandal. He’d been dubbed the ‘ordinary’ candidate in contrast to the ‘bling’ candidate whose popularity has faded over recent months.
• France decides (round 1) 20 Apr 2012
• Sarkozy v Hollande: French presidential race hots up 14 Mar 2012
• Is François Hollande the next president of France? 9 Feb 2012
Hollande comes from a small town called Tulle and is seen as a lovely, down to earth guy. His policies if successful include taxing those who earn more than a million euros at 75%. If he makes it to the Élysée Palace he will be the first Socialist president since 1995; if Sarkozy loses, he will be the first incumbent to lose a second term since 1981.