France 2022 presidential runoff

As I write this we will soon have the early estimates of the results of today’s runoff for French president.

Sometimes readers of this blog like to discuss as results come in. So if this is one of those times, here is an open planting hole.

25 thoughts on “France 2022 presidential runoff

  1. The story of the French Presidential election is all the voters who cast blank or spoiled ballots in the second round, or just stayed home.

    Of the 35,923,707 who voted in the first round, 3,018,990 cast blank or spoiled ballots in the second round, and 827,316 stayed home, for a total of 10.7% of those who voted in the first round. Granted, even in the first round 2.2% had cast blank or spoiled ballots, but those who rejected the choice increased by 8.5% in the second round.

    The voters for harder left who refused to endorse Macron – France Unbowed, the Communists and the two Trotskyist groups – got a total of 8,980,940 votes, or 25.0% of those who voted in the first round. Some 3,971,864 of them (11.1% of them) voted against Le Pen, and thus for Macron. Those who switched to Le Pen in the second round included, in addition to voters of the two candidates who endorsed her, 1,953,530, or 5.4% of the first-round voters. That leaves 8.5%, matching the increase in the second round of those who rejected the choice.

    For the Assembly elections, potential first-round voters to the left of Macron (including the Green and Socialist who endorsed Macron in the second round) total 11,225,271, or 31.2% of those who voted in the first presidential round. They will not necessarily be polarized into swinging behind Macron.


    • Update: “Melenchon, who came a strong third in the first round of the presidential vote after Macron and Le Pen, wants to rally a union of the left to dominate parliament and force Macron into an awkward “cohabitation”. Talks to that end seemed to make progress on Wednesday, with spokespersons for Melenchon’s France Unbowed party and the Socialist party, the former dominant force on the left whose presidential candidate got trounced, saying there seemed to be “no unbridgeable” differences in the way of an alliance.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • Experience with French legislative elections would suggest that 31% of the vote can lead to very few seats indeed. At the 1993 legislative elections, the left won 29.7% of the first-round vote, but won only 91 of 577 seats. The problems for the left will be multiplied by the low turnout, meaning that in most races they will be facing off against a LREM opponent only.


      • In an extension of this point, let me add that 1993 was not a honeymoon election, and thereby the process that allowed Macron to turn his own 31% in the first round into an assembly majority for LREM did not hold. The 1993 election was a relatively late midterm election, so the entire dynamic then favored the opposition to the incumbent president (Mitterrand, Socialist).

        Melenchon, on the other hand, will be starting with under 22% as his own vote in the first round of the presidential election and a third place finish going into a newly reelected president’s own honeymoon. I assume the reference to 31% here is a summation of the various left parties. When that comes out to no better than the second largest voting bloc (and, given not all will flock to this alliance, it arguably will not even be second best), it is not likely to be too helpful in a honeymoon election won by someone else.

        This does not contradict the point about 1993; rather, it amplifies the near impossibility of Melenchon’s goal.


  2. Here is a fact I didn’t know:
    “The outcome of the législatives (as the parliamentary elections are called in French) will also be consequential due to their role in party financing. On top of what they receive in donations and membership dues, parties get state subsidies if they pass the threshold of at least 1 percent of the vote in at least 50 constituencies – to the tune of €1.42 per vote. This low bar to qualify for public funding makes the législatives an invaluable source of income for France’s constellation of small political parties. Consequently, these polls “incentivise the parties to put forward as many candidates as possible”, said Paul Bacot, a professor emeritus of politics at Sciences Po Lyon University.

    So the first round alliances are limited (or dictated) by the financing rules, but they will also have to foreshadow the second round alliances, which will vary from region to region. In Ile de France (Paris Region) Melenchon got 30.24%, Macron 30.19%, Le Pen 12.97%. In Brittany also, Le Pen ran third.


    • I did not know that, either, re the financing rules.

      Yes, alliances will vary regionally, which is one of the things that makes very specific modeling of seat totals in French assembly elections challenging. (I assume someone has worked this out in some fashion.) But until such time as results prove otherwise, I am going with the expectation that the most successful alliance will be the one backing Macron, with obvious regional variations. That is, I do not claim that honeymoon elections result in the president’s alliance winning everywhere, just that they favor the president-supporting parties in the aggregate.


  3. I agree that the abstention or blank voting is a significant story in the presidential runoff.

    It is possible that many of these voters could be motivated to get back out and vote in the assembly elections. I have seen others make that argument. I have never seen anyone attempt to analyze how turnout dynamics shape voting in honeymoon elections (or midterms, outside the US). So there is always the possibility this will help the left recover. But I most certainly would be surprised if that worked out for them.

    In fact, let’s consider that the reason many such voters declined to vote (or voted blank) is because their political tendency was defeated already in the first round. That they may not flock to Macron is to be expected. But LREM will not exactly be hurt if they continue to abstain (except relative to the really big surge it could get if they voted for Macron’s party, obviously), which I would expect to be the most likely outcome.

    In 2017, the LREM surge in votes was very slightly higher than I expected, and the votes-to-seat translation was considerably more favorable than I expected. So there is room for a decline, relative to 2017, that would still represent a normal honeymoon surge and a seat majority. For reference, in 2017, LREM and its MoDem ally got 32.3% of first-round assembly votes and 49.1% in the second round, and ended up with over 60% of the seats.


    • I just noticed an odd constraint in the legislative elections. To progress to the second round, a candidate must have 12.5% of the votes? No, it must have 12.5% of the registered electors, a rather higher threshold.


      • Yeah this is part of the reason why things are probably going to be easier for LREM. As turnout has fallen, the share of actual votes required for a candidate who doesn’t finish in the top two has grown. At the 1988 legislative election, the average share of votes required to make it to the second round was 19%–in 2017, it was 26%. Essentially this means that most races are going to be LREM against one other candidate, which makes it difficult for either a candidate of the right or the left to win in a ‘triangulaire’ if voters for the other ideologically extreme candidate support LREM or abstain.


  4. France Unbowed has reached an agreement with Générations, the movement founded by Benoît Hamon, and an agreement with the Greens is “in sight.” The Communist Party will announce something shortly. The Socialists are in agony. No, this will not give Mélenchon a majority. But will it deny a majority to Macron? Stay tuned.


    • More news: the Socialists in power regionally in Occitania (centred on Toulouse), where the 4-party Socialist alliance got 39.57% in the first round last year, and without needing mergers got 57.78% in the second round, and with the bonus, 69% of the seats. Its regional President Carole Delga is not waiting for negotiations with France Unbowed. She has presented the Socialist candidates in three of its constituencies: « You have to have the courage to say that there are positions that we do not share”. “I sold salads at the market to pay for my studies. To my fellow citizens I do not sell salads” she tweeted.


      • But, of course, Hidalgo performed disastrously in Occitania in the presidential election, getting only 2.2% to 22% for Melenchon. So would FI be willing to step aside? Maybe. But this seems like precisely the sort of coordination difficulties any left-leaning coalition will encounter.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I am tuned! Thanks for the updates. Keep’em coming.

      While I think denying Macron a majority is well within the realm of the possible, as I’ve said already I suspect it will remain an unlikely outcome.


      • From the 2017 results, the Socialists have 30 seats and their allies another 15. Surely France Unbowed (LFI) is willing to stand down in those 45 seats? Perhaps the Socialists want a few more. It seems LFI will not contest the 10 Communist Party seats either. But the Communists want 14 more, or 30 more.

        Some said Sunday was the deadline for a deal, the “last chance weekend.” Others said May 7? or even May 14?

        So the Greens met the Sunday deadline: the EELV approved a text detailing the deal with LFI on Sunday, calling it the “new popular ecology and social union.” (With 100 seats for the Greens! Really? out of 577!) The Socialists did not, but their leader said “Plan C, to not take plan B, is to go alone. But I’m fighting for plan A, really.” LFI responded “we leave them a larger proportion of candidates than the results of the first round would let them hope for.” But the opposition within the Socialist ranks responded “He is ready to sell off all socialist history for an agreement on 20 constituencies, this is unacceptable.”

        So Mélenchon announced a new deadline: the parties being only a few millimetres apart, on May 3 they will have signed and created “la nouvelle Union populaire.”


  5. In the end, 167 National Council members voted in favour and 101 against, with 24 abstentions. The deal gives the Socialist Party 70 of France’s 577 parliamentary seats, while candidates from the other three parties will run in the remaining seats. Of those 70 seats, at least 20 are seen as “winnable” for the Socialists. But some incumbent MPs will be forced to give up their spots so that another coalition candidate can run for their seat – something many Socialists see as unfair. Debate over the proposal lasted four hours. Former president François Hollande and his former prime minister Bernard Cazeneuve were among those voicing the strongest opposition, with Cazeneuve going as far as quitting the party. Other key party figures, including Lille mayor Martine Aubry, also backed the deal, despite “reservations over Europe.” Anne Hidalgo, the Socialist candidate in this year’s presidential elections, said she did not want to get in the way of a deal that could help combat “environmental and social regression”, while nevertheless criticising a program that she said “does not include the necessary guarantees on NATO, Europe, or defending secularism”. “This is a clarifying vote,” said party chief Olivier Faure, adding that it showed that the Socialist Party belongs “on the left” and not on the side of President Emmanuel Macron.

    In several constituencies, members of the Socialist Party could dissent and maintain their candidacy, warns Hélène Geoffroy, mayor of Vaulx-en-Velin. “We will not have to be surprised that there are dissident candidacies”, she affirms.

    Carole Delga, Socialist President of Occitania, says “The first party in France is that of abstention: 17 million people did not vote in the presidential election or voted blank or null. If we continue with these methods, with agreements on the sly, without deciding on Europe, Ukraine, security, secularism, then this agreement will not last. I am for the union of the left, I have been practicing it for several years. So this agreement, I oppose it, there is no fair representation. With France Insoumise, I agree to discuss when there is the risk of the far right, and to know how to withdraw in favor of the left-wing candidate on the evening of the first round. I’ve already done it.”

    But warns Olivier Faure, recalling the statutes of the PS, “Any candidate who presents himself against candidates supported by the Socialist Party comes out of himself from the Socialist Party. (…) It is a mechanical application of the statutes.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: France assembly 2022: Putting the prospects for NUPES in context | Fruits and Votes

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