Conventional wisdom suggests National Front candidate Marine le Pen will make it to the second round in French elections, then lose in a landslide to whoever her opponent happens to be.
I believe le Pen’s odds of winning it outright are far better than most think.
Chart from Wikipedia, with image clips added.
Top Five candidates
- Marine le Pen: National Front – Eurosceptic, Anti-Immigration – 25%
- François Fillon: Republicans – Center Right – 24%
- Emmanuel Macron: En Marche! – Socialist – 17%
- Manuel Valls: Socialist – 11%
- Jean-Luc Mélenchon: Left Front – Socialist – 13%
In France, the winners of each party square off in around one of national elections. If no one gets 50% of the vote, the top two square off in round two.
With about 25% or so solid votes, le Pen is likely to make it to the second round. The others battle to see who comes up against le Pen.
January 13: Yesterday night the seven candidates for the left primaries had their first debate. It was sometimes painful to watch and it is not clear how much the audience took home from the long catalogue of measures the candidates were quizzed about. All tried to differentiate themselves from François Hollande, and lashed out against the common enemy François Fillon. All were eager to show how presidential they are and how well they represent the real socialist heart. Though it did not look like they succeeded. One blogger wrote that there was one irreconcilable division, that is between the candidates and their audience.
François Fillon, meanwhile, has his own rebellion to deal with. Laurent Wauquiez, Christian Estrosi, and other ex-Sarkozists, insist on making their own mark and call for changes to Fillon’s programme. When Fillon made his big appearance in Nice, Estrosi told everyone in front of the presidential candidate that he is not a “Filloniste”. Laurent Wauquiez, who was fired by Fillon, is leading this mini-revolt. He recently called for a de-taxation of supplementary working hours, one of Sarkozy’s key measures, which is absolutely not in the Fillon’s programme, writes Marianne. Brice Hortefeux, another Sarkozy ally, said they want to enrich the programme. Fillon, however, remains firm and will not give in to those demands. His campaign chief dismissed those efforts as coming from bad losers or small players. The risk is that he may alienate the Sarkozy wing, though.
January 12: For Macron, no politics goes without narrative and no narrative without ideal. So, what is his ideal? Some friends call him a real libertarian, others a real democrat, who has yet to find a socially empathetic narrative. In 2015 he outlined his three dreams – equality, Europe and industry. When it comes to Europe, he may well compare with Jacques Delors, who like him was not loved by the Socialist party and made his way. But this comparison only holds on Europe. Macron’s economic ideal is inspired by new-Keynesian thinking, and the idea that social improvement is achieved by eliminating unjust rents that keep up barriers in society.
January 11: Emmanuel Macron is the most pro-European among the presidential candidates, though will he really be ready to confront the Germans and change the course of the eurozone? We have our doubts, but he is the only candidate with at least an explicit eurozone agenda. In his speech at Humboldt University in Berlin yesterday he promised that, if elected, he would propose a common eurozone budget for investment and financial assistance in case of shocks. At the EU council in December 2017 he would propose democratic conventions in all EU countries for 6-10 months.
We note that his Berlin speech did not make headlines in the French press. They were more interested in comparing Macron with the Socialist candidates or to François Fillon, or in the question whether Macron exaggerated his arguments. There is a clear national bias in reporting, as we have observed so many times in the past.
The Front National took the chance to pick up on the point that Macron gave his speech in English rather than French. Pauvre France, tweeted Marine Le Pen. Florian Philippot writes it only shows Macron’s disrespect for the French language, and that he does not believe in France.
The latest Ifop poll for Paris Match shows Marine Le Pen (26%) advancing to the pole position for the first round, overtaking Francois Fillon (24%). Macron comes third (17%), far ahead of the Manuel Valls (10.5%). Le Pen is still expected to lose in the second round against Fillon (64% to 36%) or Macron (65% to 35%). We agree with François Heisbourg, who tweeted that this is a wildly unpredictable election.
I agree with Eurointelligence this is a wildly unpredictable election.
Already we have seen “wild” results with former president Nicolas Sarkozy unexpectedly getting clobbered in the first round of the primary by Francois Fillon.
Germany a Loser No Matter Who Wins?
- Le Pen: Eurosceptic – Seeks better relations with Russia
- Macron: Pro Europe but seeks a common eurozone budget for investment and financial assistance in case of shocks.
- Mélenchon: A socialist who will not be in favor of reforms France desperately needs
- Valls: After the 2016 Nice attack, he was booed for saying that “France will have to live with terrorism.”
- Fillon: Fillon aims to reduce the public sector and cut 500,000 civil-service jobs. He wants the state healthcare program (securité sociale) to work better with fewer payments. Fillon is in favor of increasing the retirement age to 65. He seeks better relations with Russia.
Of the five, Germany could work best with Fillon. But his pro-Russia stance poses at least a minor problem.
Fillon vs. Le Pen
Can Le Pen Win?
I think the current odds are wildly off, just as there were in the US with Trump. Le Pen is eurosceptic, but she will not seek to gut civil-service. Her message that France throws money at the EU will resonate with some. She regularly denounces France’s bandwagoning towards the USA. Her anti-immigration message will appeal to anyone who blames immigration for loss of jobs.
Since Bottoming in November, Le Pen has steadily picked up voter approval vs. Fillon.
What happened? Fillon had to disclose more and more of his policies in his primary vs. Sarkozy.
Many of Le Pen’s ideas are socialistic at heart. The socialists will not want an increased work week, hundreds of thousands of civil service jobs cut, etc.
In round one of the French presidential election there will be lots of mud thrown, some of it at le Pen, but most of it will go to Macron, Mélenchon, Valls, and Fillon, all wanting the second spot.
It is by no means certain le Pen makes it to the second round, but that outcome is highly likely.
And if le Pen comes out better than expected, especially if there is a big mud-fight among the others, her chances in round 2 are far better than most believe.