How the Presidential Election works

Election dates

The 1st round is on 23 April.

If no candidate receives 50% (plus 1) of the total votes cast, there will be a run off between the top 2 candidates on 7 May. [Anyone out there wanting to bet that a candidate will win in the 1st round? Do not bet unless offered odds of many, many thousands to one. Say 10,000-1 … and, even so, don’t wager more than €10.]

This will be the 11th Presidential Election of the 5th Republic and it’s the first time a sitting President has not stood again.

Who can stand?

Any French person over 18 can seek election as President provided (s)he obtains a minimum ‘500 signatures’ on their nomination papers. Those who can sign are MPs, Senators, Regional councillors and local Mayors (36,000 of them in all) representing at least 30 French Departments with not more than 10% (ie 50) from the same Department – altogether some 42,000 people can sign. The formal demand for signatures starts on 25 February. The announcement of the actual candidates for the Election will be on 21 March.

President’s term

5 years – renewable once.

Five Main Candidates (de Gauche à Droite)

Hard Left Melenchon; Socialist Hamon; Centrist Macron; Républicains Fillon; Extreme-Right Le Pen. Other candidates will be available.

‘Vote utile’

In this two-round Election, candidates must be 1st or 2nd in Round 1 to get to Round 2.

Candidates who have programmes which are not too dissimilar to other(s) may, therefore, appeal (semi-indirectly) to electors not to ‘waste’ their votes on their preferred candidate in the 1st round … because such preferred candidate almost certainly cannot make the 2nd round by finishing in the Top Two.

Electors are therefore ‘reminded’ that voting for their 2nd preferred candidate in Round 1 (rather than their preferred one) may mean that 2nd preference person making the run off. Hence, if the Socialist candidate, say, is consistently ahead of the other Left (Soft/Hard/Extremely Hard) candidates, Hamon’s campaign may hint at the advantages of a ‘vote utile‘ (useful vote).