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Friday 13 January 2012

French Presidential Elections - a Prediction

French Presidential Elections - a Prediction

Before sticking my neck out and making a prediction, here is some background information that might be useful.

The French people choose a president, who must be elected by a majority of the voting population (that is, must receive more than 50% of the votes cast). This is achieved by the simple method of having, up to, two rounds of voting. In the first round, all the candidates meeting the criteria are on the ballot list. If no candidate receives an absolute majority of the votes then, the top two candidates go into the second ballot. Apart from the statistically extremely unlikely possibility of both receiving exactly the same number of votes cast, one must be elected by the majority.

The main criteria for being a candidate for the presidency are that one must be a French national aged at least eighteen years, and have been sponsored by at least 500 elected French officials. There are about 46,000 such people, approximately 35,000 of whom are mayors, the rest are elected members of various assemblies. A sponsorship is a matter of public record and nobody can sponsor more than one candidate. This sponsorship is similar to that required to join a club; it does not involve a financial element. It is also (incorrectly), frequently, described as 'godparenting', as a result of a poor translation from the French 'parrainage'.

The first round of the election will take place on 22nd April, 2012 and the second round (there has always been a second round) two weeks later, on 6th May, 2012.

The runners and riders for this contest have not yet been declared, although various intentions have been made clear. The following are near certain to meet the criteria for nomination, and have also openly stated that they wish to have their candidacy considered: the incumbent, Nicolas Sarkosy (UMP - Union pour un Mouvement Populaire, a centre right party, who polled 31% of the vote in the first round last time out), Francois Hollande (Socialist, whose party, in the form of his ex-partner polled 26%), Francois Bayrou (Democratic Movement, a centrist who personally gained 19%), and Marine Le Pen (National Front, right wing party, whose father polled over 10% in 2007, and was the run off candidate in 2002).

And here is the tip, directly from the horse's mouth, so to speak. Marine Le Pen will be a candidate in the second round of the election on 6th May. This is based, not on personal political ideology, but on simple arithmetic. In the most recent polls, one third of respondents said they would vote for the National Front (Marine Le Pen's party). This leaves two thirds of the votes to be shared between the three other candidates. It is therefore arithmetically impossible for two other protagonists to receive more votes than Marine Le Pen.

The only way this would not happen is, of course, the million to one scenario, where one candidate receives over 50% of the votes cast, which would be a first and should get you some amazing odds.

I believe Marine Le Pen has also played a very strong card in declaring that she would take France out of the Euro currency. This is unlikely to alienate her core supporters and will strike a sympathetic chord with some voters of most other parties, thereby bringing her more votes in the first round. It will further strengthen her position, as it is extremely unlikely (although I could be proved wrong), that any of the other candidates mentioned will dare to suggest a Euro exit. This will have a levelling effect on the other candidates, thereby diluting their individual share of the vote even further.

Things could have been very different if Dominique Strauss-Kahn had not been embroiled in a sexual scandal, which effectively cost him the socialist party nomination. If the rumours of a 'dirty tricks' campaign are eventually proven then, the current French administration, as well as that of the United States could live to seriously regret their, alleged, involvement.

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