Tomorrow is the last day of school vacation and, more importantly, the first day of the Presidential election here in France. Instead of traveling, our day will involve voting (and in the case of A’s Dad counting ballots), relaxing and waiting for the results at 8pm! There are 10 candidates in this year’s race and today’s post will be a crash-course in French presidential elections.
To begin with, in order to qualify as a candidate, a French citizen must collect 500 signatures from elected French officials. You do not have to have been born French to run–Eva Joly one of this year’s candidates was born Norwegian and later became French. (As an aside, you do not have to be French to qualify for all elected positions in France. Mayors can also be European Union citizens as long as they are French residents.) There are over 47,000 possible signatories including Deputies, Senators and French European Members of Parliament, however, mayors are traditionally responsible for the majority of qualifying signatures. (There are approximately 36,000 mayors in France!) Each elected official can sign for only one candidate and the signature lists are public.
This past week, everyone on the electoral roll received an official envelope from the Minister of the Interior containing each candidate’s program/statements. If you go by any Town Hall in France right now, you won’t be able to miss their campaign posters on display. Like everything else in France, even the order in which the posters are displayed is regulated. Following the 500-signature cut-off date, all of the qualified candidates names were randomly chosen one by one creating an official election order. This order is then used throughout the campaign and on election day itself. For example, tomorrow when a person votes, the ballots will be laid out in this official order. This year’s candidates are:
- Eva Joly, Europe Écologie–The Greens
- Marine Le Pen, Front National (FN) English: National Front
- Nicolas Sarkozy, Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP) English: Union for a Popular Movement
- Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Parti de gauche (PG) English: Left Party
- Philippe Poutou; Nouveau parti anticapitaliste, English: New Anticapitalist Party
- Nathalie Arthaud, Lutte ouvrière, English: Workers’ Struggle
- Jacques Cheminade, Solidarité et Progrès, English: Solidarity and Progress
- François Bayrou, Mouvement démocrate, English: Democratic Movement
- Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, Debout la République, English: Arise the Republic
- François Hollande, Parti socialiste, English: Socialist Party
With so many candidates running, tomorrow is about narrowing the field down to two candidates for the second round. While it is theoretically possible to win the election on the first round by winning over 50% of the vote, in reality this is highly unlikely. Based on polls thus far, Nicolas Sarkozy, the current President, will likely be facing François Hollande in the run-off election in May. Aux urnes citoyens!