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Takeaways from the French Presidential Election
Dr. Louis Perron - Political Consultant Dr. Louis Perron - Political Consultant
Monday, April 25, 2022


The French voters have rendered their verdict. Emmanuel Macron has won a second term, an accomplishment which the previous two presidents, François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy failed to achieve. In fact, the last incumbent president to win reelection was Jacques Chirac twenty years ago. I also find it noteworthy that a candidate with a clearly pro-EU and pro-market economy platform won a decisive reelection in France. It is also a great victory at a personal level for Macron, who has never run for office before running for president, and who entered the palais d'Elysée as the youngest president in recent history.

During the campaign, Macron was criticized for not campaigning. Well, that's actually exactly how incumbent presidents should run, by transforming themselves from a challenger candidate to a statesman. Reelection campaigns are fundamentally different from challenger campaigns for that matter. Much of what an incumbent president does during the campaign does not look like a campaign. Reelection bids are therefore often less colorful; there is less enthusiasm, and admittedly, they are rarely the start of a new youth movement. But I disagree with several commentators: 58.5% is not close. And while there is obviously a minority in France who sees things very differently, 58.5% is a decisive victory, both historically, internationally, and compared to pre-election surveys.

As for the traditional parties that have long dominated French polity, their collapse from five years ago, has been confirmed. The right is now fighting for (financial) survival. The Socialist Party in particular pays the price for never really reinventing itself and leaving a space in the political center.

With respect to Le Pen, it has been a while now that, if anything, polls overestimated her support. Back in 2002, it was a huge success and political earthquake when her father made it into the runoff. But that is twenty years ago. She has to ask herself where her journey (and the one of her political movement) leads to? France is a winner-take-it-all system. Unlike in a proportional system, you don't achieve all that much politically when you come in second. As a result, Le Pen has struggled to translate her scores from the presidential election into parliamentary seats or local wins.

Last year in Germany, the voice of the political right was by and large missing in the chancellor debates. This year in France, the left was missing in the runoff. I think it is unhealthy for democracy if an important voice from the party spectrum is entirely absent in the political arena.

In June, French voters will head to the polls for the parliamentary election. In the past, French voters were quite coherent in their voting and gave their president a majority in parliament. There might be some major realignment in the next few weeks. Affaire à suivre.


Dr. Louis Perron is an internationally renowned political consultant based in Switzerland. He has won dozens of competitive election and referendum campaigns in various countries. His clients include everything from mayors up to senators, members of cabinet, presidents – and a former Miss Universe.

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