ETF Securities Research Blog

French primaries, another hit to the polls

For the first time in the history of the right wing party, the French are able to have their say and vote for the Republican candidate for the presidential election in May 2017. These open primary elections happen at a time when populism is rising across the developed world. After the UK and the US, the focus is now on Europe. French political parties acknowledged the threat from the far-right chaired by Marine Le Pen. The winner of the primaries will most likely face Le Pen next year and potentially become the next president of the French Republic.

Last Sunday, more than 4 million voters gathered at polling stations in France, or on their computers for French living abroad, to choose the one who will highly likely face Marine Le Pen at the French presidential election in May 2017. Following the EU referendum and US election, the centre-right party (renamed the Republicans) is taking the rise of populism very seriously with these primaries a strategic move to guarantee the soon elected candidate its legitimacy in the race.

The results of the first round held yesterday were another hit to pollsters. While polls have consistently pointed Juppé as best placed for being the next French president with Sarkozy as his main opponent, Fillon made a surprising comeback and won the first round with 44% of the vote. Juppé only managed to get 28% and Sarkozy bowed out. The second round scheduled this Sunday is now between Fillon and Juppé with a debate scheduled for this Thursday. The possibility for Juppé becoming president is however much slimmer.

Juppé is a conservative. Fillon is more liberal. Both however take a similar approach on security and immigration issues. The successful candidate needs to be charismatic and well-prepared to promote their perspective on these key issues ahead of next year’s presidential debate in order to prevent a Frexit. Beyond the battle of rising populism, voters this Sunday should keep in mind that now more than ever, France needs a strong president and government that will be able to bring the country back to its feet socially and economically. People who will vote this Sunday will in this way be voting for their next president.

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