A little electoral-system context, please

Perhaps it is simply too much to ask, but the media could help readers understand the dynamic of the unfolding French presidential race if only they would throw in a sentence somewhere near the top of the article about how the French president is actually elected.

Typical is the Telegraph story with the headline that Marine Le Pen “would beat Nicolas Sarkozy” and the subtitle that amplifies, “Marine Le Pen, the French National Front’s new leader, stands to beat Nicolas Sarkozy in the first round of the presidential election next year.”

Somewhere farther down, it does say that “only the top two candidates can reach the second round.” But by then, the reader who even gets that far could be forgiven for concluding that a Le Pen was practically on the verge of becoming the President of the Republic.

For the record, the recent “shock poll” has the three front-runners–Le Pen, Sarkozy, and possible Socialist candidate Martine Aubry–at either 21% or 23%, and the French president has to win a MAJORITY to be elected.

I do not make a lot of predictions on this blog, but I will go out on a limb here: Marine Le Pen is not going to win the presidential election.

4 thoughts on “A little electoral-system context, please

  1. Its even more appalling when all this kerfuffle is over a cheap internet poll that even the pollster behind it cant defend (he tried, to no great effect, on the radio the other morning). People are openly characterising the poll as a manipulation by the Elysee to stampede centre-right voters back into Sarkozy’s camp.

  2. One reason people are increasingly turning to the internets for their news is because of articles like this. After reading it, you will be guaranteed to know less about French politics than you did before. Why bother keeping up with even “quality” newspapers.

  3. Typical anti-European ‘Little Englanders’ at the Telegraph with no interest in reporting the facts. That said, we’ ve been there before. At the first round of the 2002 presidential election, Jean Marie Le Pen (Marine’s dad) beated the Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin by less than one per cent of the popular vote and went on to fight the runoff race against the sitting president Jacques Chirac.

  4. I just picked the Telegraph story as one example. There was an even more context-free story on Al Jazeera, and similar stories in the US press, as well as other UK outlets.

    As for the 2002 experience, the fact that Chirac wound up winning 82% of the vote in the runoff is what makes me confident that my prediction is a reasonably safe one.

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