France: good start, but not all over yet

by Jackie_South on April 23, 2012

We now know that 6 May’s second round runoff for the French presidency will between Francois Hollande (aka Monsieur Normal/ Monsieur Flanby) and Nicholas Sarkozy.  For the first time in French presidential elections, the incumbent finished second in the first round, with Sarkozy half a million votes behind Hollande.  The only previous incumbent to lose, Valery Giscard d’Estaing in 1981, was 700,000 votes ahead of Mitterand in the first round.

As the regional map below shows, Hollande did well in the south-west, in particular his native Limousin where he was 17.2% ahead of Sarkozy. Brittany was also good for Hollande, and the northern mining belt also delivered, although not quite as convincingly.  Normandy was split between the two lead candidates, with Hollande having a slight edge there over all.

Sarkozy was strongest in Alsace (the only region now run by his party, the Union for a Popular Movement – UMP).  He also did well in Corsica and Provence:  Hollande came third after Marine Le Pen in all three of these regions.

Sarkozy’s own home-turf was less good for the president: although he took his native  department, Hauts-de-Seine, he only did so by a 4.8% margin compared to the 12.3% edge he had on Royale five years ago.  The Ile de France region as a whole gave Hollande a 2.7% winning margin: Sarkozy was 6% ahead here in 2007.  He lost in Paris itself, a city that tends to have its most left-wing areas outside its city boundaries beyond the Peripherique.

As you might expect, Hollande did well in the other cities on the mainland, with the exception of Lyon and most of the cities in Provence.  He narrowly beat Sarkozy in Marseille, by 1% (Royale lost there by 7%).  Sarkozy also won Corsica’s capital Ajaccio along with the rest of the island.

Hollande did very well in most of the overseas departements, excluding Mayotte which went to Sarkozy.  He took over half the vote in Guadeloupe, Martinique and Reunion.  Better for Sarkozy were the non-departement overseas territories, the largest of which, New Caledonia and French Polynesia, gave him large margins.  Sarkozy also had a 10% lead on the votes of French nationals living abroad.

The map below shows the lead in each region, together with how the major cities voted.

The other story was the also rans, in particular the strong showing by Marine Le Pen who secured 17.9% of the vote.  She came second in Alsace,  Provence and Corsica, and a close third in Champagne-Ardennes, Languedoc-Roussillon, Lorraine, Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardie.

She won in one departement: Gard around the city of Nimes, in the east of Languedoc-Roussillon.  The result there was a tight three-way finish, with Le Pen on 25.5%, Sarkozy on 24.9% and Hollande on 24.1%.

The anticipated swell for the Left Front’s Jean-Luc Melenchon failed to materialise, with him getting 11.1%.  Centrist Francois Bayrou fell from the 18.6% he secured in 2007 to 9.1% this time around.  The Greens’ Eva Joly took a measily 2.3%, and the other left-wing candidates 1.7% between them.

Melenchon and Joly have asked their supporters to swing behind Hollande for the second round.  If Hollande took their share plus the remaining far-left support, that brings him up to 43.7%.

Sarkozy on the other hand can only garner 2% from the non-Fascist right (Dupont-Aignan and Cheminade).  That means that he has to both appeal to Le Pen’s supporters and the centrist Bayrou’s.

That’s a big ask, but Sarkozy is a fighter – don’t rule him out yet.  Expect the next two weeks to be some of the dirtiest in French politics.

It has apparently already split the Chiracs: Bernadette (a native of Hollande’s Correze departement) says that Hollande is unfit to govern whilst Jacques is hinting that he will settle old scores with Sarkozy by backing the socialist candidate.  This is a very personal election for Chirac, as Hollande replaced him as deputy for Correze in the National Assembly.

There are more twists and turns for this one yet: you would be wise to wait another fortnight before buying that bottle of champagne.

(data sources: 20 minutes and the French Ministry of the Interior)

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

George_East April 23, 2012 at 7:50 pm

For those of you who, like me, are getting a bit nervous about how this turns out, it is worth reminding yourself that Sarkozy has not even been level in a second round poll since August 2010.

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