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French elections: First Round Open Thread

by Bernard Sun Apr 23rd, 2017 at 08:58:25 AM EST

Polling stations are open since 8:00 this morning in mainland France. Polls are also open in overseas territories like Réunion island, New Caledonia and various French consulates throughout Asia, Oceania, Africa and Europe: pretty much all places west of the International Date Line up to the eastern shores of the Atlantic (including UK, Ireland, Portugal, Morocco and western Africa). For instance, there are 54 polling stations in the UK (42 in London - source).

For the Americas, Caribbean and Pacific islands east of the International Date Line, the polls were held yesterday, due to the time difference. At the French consulate in Washington DC, voter registration was up 30%. In Montréal, only a single polling place was open and the line stretched for more than 1 km; same in Toronto where the voters had to wait in line for more than 2 hours.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger


As discussed in Frank's diary, polls are no longer published in the French media, but well, our Belgian and Swiss neighbors are ready.

This election is completely unlike the previous ones in that the candidates for the two main parties, Hamon for the PS and Fillon for the LR (formerly UMP) may well fall short of the second round tonight.

Speaking of tonight, there's a twist: until the last elections five years ago, most polling places were closing at 18:00 in most towns and 20:00 in major cities like Paris or Lyon (all times CEST - GMT+2); this allowed enough time to compute first estimates after 18:00 and announce the results, at least a good estimate, by 20:00.

This year, polling stations will close at 19:00 (20:00 for big cities), and given the relatively close race between the four front runners, the two candidates who'll get qualified for the second round may not be known until later tonight.

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One of the main concerns on this election day is the possibility of an attack against polling stations, especially after last Thursday attack on the Champs Elysées. Two stations were "briefly closed" in Besançon earlier today, due to "a suspicious vehicle" parked nearby. Voting operations have resumed now.

A similar incident happened yesterday in New-York where the NYPD evacuated the French consulate, also due to a "suspicious vehicle".

by Bernard on Sun Apr 23rd, 2017 at 10:43:04 AM EST
Voting rate: noon time.

As of 12:00 local time, 28.54% of registered voters have cast their ballot (including yours truly). This is about the same percentage as the last presidential elections in 2012.

As eurogreen noted, there were still about 25% of "undecided" voters and it will be interesting to see where they may finally lean to (or decide not to vote altogether).

by Bernard on Sun Apr 23rd, 2017 at 10:49:06 AM EST
66.8% voting rate in the Rhone department at 5pm. That's a bit low, actually.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sun Apr 23rd, 2017 at 03:23:03 PM EST
69.4% nationally (70.6% in 2012)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sun Apr 23rd, 2017 at 03:25:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to RTBF, a first poll estimate shows:
Macron 24%

Le Pen 22%

Fillon 20,5%

Mélenchon 18%

However, as highlighted by Le Soir, there was no precision as to the source of RTBF data, nor the method used for these estimates. Moreover, the main nine French polling firms have agreed, with the French National Polling Commission, not to do any exit polls but rather to compile estimates based on the first 200 effective votes counted in 500 polling stations after 19:00; estimates shouldn't be available until 19:30-19:45.

More than ever, caveat emptor.

by Bernard on Sun Apr 23rd, 2017 at 03:42:20 PM EST
RTBF has been challenged on Twitter as to where their estimates come from; their reply, FWIW:

by Bernard on Sun Apr 23rd, 2017 at 03:47:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tribune de Genève reporting:

A 69,42%, la participation à 17h est inférieure à celle de 2012 et 2007


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun Apr 23rd, 2017 at 03:55:19 PM EST
... note that polls close at 19:00 / 20:00 (in small/big towns) instead of 18:00 / 19:00 in previous elections. This may boost the final numbers.

I'll be offline for half an hour around 8pm, I'm going to help with the count in my booth.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Apr 23rd, 2017 at 04:48:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Again, RTBF didn't provide their source (sources, plural?) and it is not one of the nine main French polling firms who agreed not to perform exit polls (see above). First "official" estimates by 20:00.
by Bernard on Sun Apr 23rd, 2017 at 05:35:47 PM EST
It's rumoured to be very tight for second place, with Le Pen or Mélenchon in second place.

In either case, according to the conventional wisdom, Macron wins the second round easily.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Apr 23rd, 2017 at 05:42:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Le Soir mentions "two concordant sources showing Macron ahead" with a "tight race" for the second place.
by Bernard on Sun Apr 23rd, 2017 at 05:44:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
First estimates on French TV at 20:00.

Macron 23.7%
Le Pen 21.7%

Fillon & Mélenchon tied at 19.5%. Hamon at 6.5%.

by Bernard on Sun Apr 23rd, 2017 at 06:02:58 PM EST
At long last, the third way reaches France, with an imploded social democratic party and voters having the choice of propping up reform marketistas or frothing rabid populists. Just lovely.

An advice from the frontline: stock up on painkillers. It's going to get worse.

by Bjinse on Sun Apr 23rd, 2017 at 07:18:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Suppose Macron wins. What will happen in five years if Macron turns out another lame duck? This has got the potential to propel Le Pen over the finish line.

Or France actually experiences an actual economic upswing (they come and go, no one knows why). Macron could claim credit. But then again Trump followed Obama...

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Sun Apr 23rd, 2017 at 08:36:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
True enough, but in France, the popular vote winner gets elected president. Trump is there in part thanks to the electoral college.
by Bernard on Sun Apr 23rd, 2017 at 08:46:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As for the other question, much will depend on who wins the legislatives.
But admittedly, I do wonder how a country moves on from someone elected on personal exaltation, without stating a political direction, spending the campaign saying he agrees with everyone...

If the only possible opposition is extreme (Melenchon and Hamon are not, but are portrayed as such) then it usually benefits the right-wing version, since medias overplay terrorism and understate social unfairness. And he is bound to disappoint.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sun Apr 23rd, 2017 at 08:55:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarkozy's plan is to prep the LR party to win a majority of seats in June and rule the country regardless of who is president.
by Bernard on Mon Apr 24th, 2017 at 06:17:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes - I did fear we would end up with the worst of both worlds.
And Macron would not have much to disagree with Sarkozy, so they should find the arrangement quite palatable...

The silver lining would be that the Right would probably own the discontent 5 years later.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Apr 24th, 2017 at 09:24:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to L'Obs, the Kremlin is going to push hard to ensure a Le Pen victory in two weeks. RT and Sputnik won't cut it because they are hardly watched in France. Expect a flow of "alternate facts" on social media.

Le Kremlin va-t-il laisser perdre Le Pen sans intervenir ? Sûrement pas

La victoire probable d'Emmanuel Macron, qui entend renforcer l'Union européenne et s'opposer à l'idéologie populiste, serait une grave défaite pour Vladimir Poutine, à la fois sur le plan international et interne. Poutine va-t-il le laisser gagner sans tenter quelque chose ? Probablement pas...

D'ores et déjà, les institutions russes soutiennent ouvertement Marine Le Pen, que le chef du Kremlin a reçue juste avant le premier tour. Pour le constater, il suffit de regarder certains comptes Twitter officiels. Celui de la puissante chaîne télévision de l'armée russe, TVZvezda, par exemple. Son annonce du résultat du premier tour, contient le hashtag #JeVoteMarine...  

by Bernard on Mon Apr 24th, 2017 at 06:15:37 PM EST
He's welcome to try - this would inject some money into other economies and thus generate a mild stimulus.

That would be its only tangible effect.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Apr 24th, 2017 at 09:21:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 24th, 2017 at 06:20:12 PM EST
The Brits were always in favour of a united Europe - so long as they ruled it!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Apr 24th, 2017 at 06:28:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh I see. The Plantagenets were actually proto-Blairites!

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Apr 26th, 2017 at 06:03:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As in royalist war-mongers?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Apr 26th, 2017 at 06:37:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Last night. Oh the horror, the horror. I expected it to be bad, but the alternative was a match between Ajax Amsterdam and Olympique Lyonnais, and I had a bad feeling about that too (4-1 as it turned out).

It was shouty as hell. Macron, as I had feared, was pretty awful. Yet won convincingly. Le Pen landed a few good punches in the opening minutes, but lost it about halfway through :


 ... and never recovered.

In all logic, the whole thing will push up abstemption by 10% or so. But Le Pen is surely sunk. Not only for this electoral cycle. She may well be in difficulty as head of her party. That's how bad it was. Her niece Marion as probable successor, when the dust dies down.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu May 4th, 2017 at 07:11:04 AM EST
A bit early to do any Kremlinology at he different parties: FN, PS or LR. Bu the knifes are definitely sharpened and it will turn real ugly as soon as Sunday night.

The next, and most important step, as I've argued is the legislative elections next month: this is where the majority that will effectively govern France will be decided, the president having relatively little power in front of the parliament, in the end, Gaullist purity notwithstanding.

In the last three such exercises - legislative elections immediately following a presidential election, the French voters have always given the newly elected (or re-elected for Chirac 2002) a parliamentary majority. This preliminary poll from Les Echos show a similar trend:

  • En Marche, Macron's own organization, may get 249-286 seats (absolute majority is 290)
  • LR about 200-210 seats
  • FN 15-20 seats
  • Front de Gauche (Mélenchon's party) 6 to 8 seats
  • PS may be down to 20-43 seats

This is only a first poll, and not very reliable at this point: a lot will happen between now and June 11. Sarkozy has pushed François Baroin, a "junior" minister in his cabinet back in 2007-2012 (he is 51 now) to head the LR campaign with the obvious goal to have a LR majority ruling the country.
by Bernard on Thu May 4th, 2017 at 05:51:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So has Macron destroyed the PS, or have they only themselves to blame for such a debacle?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu May 4th, 2017 at 05:58:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mostly Hollande, Valls, Le Drian and the "social-liberal" crowd, who antagonized the left electorate by steering the government to a neolib course, away from the platform they campaigned for in 2012.

What really precipitated the crisis was the voters decision to nominate a candidate with a real left wing program - Hamon - instead of the anointed Valls during last January's primaries. This gave the third-wayers the excuse to jump ship and openly support Macron, effectively sinking their own party.

by Bernard on Thu May 4th, 2017 at 08:02:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I find it hard to see how the PS get out of the hole they have dug themselves. There is a ferocious battle going on within the upper ranks of the party, and the outcome may well be that they pitch for an alliance with Macron up front, before the legislatives.

If they do that, while keeping the logo, there is nowhere for the decent party members (and MPs) to go but left.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu May 4th, 2017 at 09:08:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's not a poll. That's a model, based on a shitload of arbitrary assumptions.

For example : all  the blocs represented in the presidential election will present a candidate in every district, so : one far left, one Mélenchon, one PS/EELV.
Also, they give an arbitrary boost to sitting candidates. This is not a good election for sitting candidates.

To be fair, all they can do is model. Neither the candidates nor even the forces in presence are clear yet. But the result will look nothing like that.

With this model they get only 52 to 78 left candidates surviving the first round, and only 34 to 51 elected.
Those numbers are frankly ridiculous, bearing in mind that .  The party structures will sort something out, to avoid a complete murder/suicide. Even if they don't, which is not impossible, left-wing voters are smarter than that. They will choose the locally-legitimate candidate, as they did nationally in the presidential, which is why Mélenchon got close to qualifying for the second round.

However, En Marche has the huge advantage of being in the middle. In any hypothetical four-way first round, it's likely (depending on the abstemtion rate) that two or three candidates will qualify for the second round. Assuming that EM is one of them, and that the LR or left candidate is eliminated, they are pretty much guaranteed to get the benefit of the eliminated candidate's votes in the second round.

So it would not be surprising if EM got something close to a majority. But it would be very surprising if the left were to be so completely wiped. Especially with the FN set to take a nosedive in the second round of the presidentials.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu May 4th, 2017 at 09:06:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Especially with the FN set to take a nosedive in the second round of the presidentials.
Going from c. 20% of the vote to c. 40% in the second round is hardly a nosedive?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu May 4th, 2017 at 10:56:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was anticipating, after that debate. In the last couple of days, according to the polls, the split has gone from 60/40 to 63/37. I anticipate that she'll finish lower than that on Sunday, perhaps 35%.

Then we can get on with hating on Macron.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri May 5th, 2017 at 05:32:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a given.  But you can also elect a legislature which forces him to look left for a governing majority and leaves the Gaullists to compete with the FN on the right.  Who would be the lead candidate for Prime Minister in a EN Marche!/PS coalition Government?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri May 5th, 2017 at 05:56:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
PS would not achieve much if it is not on Hamon's terms - Valls may well be to the right of Juppe. And then the left would be blamed for the failure of right-wing wing policies once again.
If it were Mélenchon, of course, that would be something. But very unlikely.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri May 5th, 2017 at 08:18:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If I put on my conspirational hat, I would say it is a model intentionally benefitting En Marche. By launching that as a "poll" before candidates are presented and any actual polls are made, they position En Marche as the presumptive winner.

Same as the Macron "surge" in January, that was really a model if Bayrou didn't run, positioned Macron as frontrunner.

by fjallstrom on Fri May 5th, 2017 at 03:14:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dig into the latest news on the Russian-Le Pen leak/hack misinformation campaign against Macron...just before the news blackout period. This is breaking news in the US...exactly what happened in the US presidential campaign...will it work again?

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Sat May 6th, 2017 at 05:12:30 AM EST
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat May 6th, 2017 at 09:28:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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