A França é uma festa, para os populismos de direita e de esquerda
Independentemente de quem ganhar as eleições presidenciais, a França já é uma festa para os populismos de direita e de esquerda.
JOSÉ PEDRO TEIXEIRA FERNANDES
22 de Abril de 2017, 16:12 Partilhar notícia
1. As eleições presidenciais francesas que vão decorrer a 23 de Abril, primeira volta, têm sido marcadas por frequentes surpresas, escândalos e viragens das intenções de voto durante a campanha eleitoral. Dos cinco candidatos principais — Emmanuel Macron, Benoît Hamon, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, François Fillon, Marine Le Pen —, o único que as sondagens mostram afastado de possibilidades reais de disputar a segunda volta é Benoît Hamon, do Partido Socialista. Face ao que parecia quase certo há pouco tempo atrás — uma segunda volta entre Emmanuel Macron e Marine Le Pen —, as últimas semanas mostraram que tudo pode estar ainda em aberto. Um dos aspectos mais relevantes e surpreendentes deste acto eleitoral é que, entre os candidatos com efectivas possibilidades de passagem à segunda volta, apenas um, François Fillon da direita conservadora (Os Republicanos), é o candidato oficial de um partido tradicional de poder.
2. Com tanta incerteza sobre quem passará à segunda volta, a realizar no próximo dia 7 de Maio, a questão mais colocada nos últimos dias é sobre o impacto da ameaça terrorista sobre o resultado eleitoral. O último episódio foi um ataque no centro de Paris, nos Campos Elísios, contra forças policiais, da autoria de um francês de origem magrebina, prontamente reivindicado pelo Daesh. Não foi um episódio isolado, mas um elo de uma cadeia de atentados. Desde 7 de Janeiro de 2015, com o ataque à sede do Charlie Hebdo, ocorreu uma sucessão de acontecimentos de maior ou menor gravidade, os quais já vitimaram mortalmente mais de duzentas pessoas. Os mais graves foram os de 13 de Novembro de 2015, em diversos pontos da capital francesa. A manutenção em permanente estado de emergência, como as forças de segurança a patrulhar as ruas e outros locais públicos, inevitavelmente adensa o sentimento de apreensão. Por sua vez, o receio de mais atentados, e a sua continuada ocorrência, alimenta o discurso político sobre o falhanço do Estado (leia-se, dos governos dos partidos tradicionais) em proteger os seus cidadãos.
3. Marine Le Pen, a líder da Frente Nacional, já há muito tempo que ocupa a atenção da opinião pública interna e internacional, com o seu discurso securitário. O seu populismo de (extrema)direita é bem conhecido. Quanto ao seu programa anti-imigração extra-europeia e de nacionalismo económico e político, está em rota de colisão com os princípios da União Europeia, a qual aponta como responsável pelos males franceses. O que já não era muito conhecido, pelo menos fora de França, era o populismo à (extrema) esquerda, ou da esquerda radical, de Jean-Luc Mélenchon. A sua subida de vários pontos nas intenções de voto, surgindo, nos últimos dias de campanha, mesmo com possibilidades de passagem à segunda volta, captou também a atenção internacional. Somando as intenções de voto em ambos, os valores atingiam um patamar algures entre 40% e os 45% do eleitorado. O valor é particularmente elevado para uma democracia liberal consolidada como a França. Mostra como os partidos tradicionais de poder, à esquerda e à direita, não estão a conseguir fixar o seu eleitorado e a perder relevância política.
4. Les extrêmes se touchent, é uma expressão francesa que visa mostrar que os opostos, paradoxalmente, não só têm certos traços em comum como se poderá passar, com uma relativa facilidade, de um extremo ao outro. No actual contexto político-ideológico francês, a questão levanta-se quanto a Marine Le Pen (Frente Nacional) e a Jean-Luc Mélenchon (Partido de Esquerda, Ecologia-Socialismo-República). Na sua auto-imagem, Jean-Luc Mélenchon é um socialista republicano. A sua linha ideológica e de acção política parece inspirada nas concepções da filósofa política belga Chantal Mouffe. A estratégia parece ser combater o populismo de direita com um populismo de esquerda. Mas aqui começa também a questão da semelhança das suas propostas e actuações políticas. Ambos têm uma componente patriótica, ou nacionalista, mais ou menos vincada; ambos atacam a União Europeia e o Euro; ambos estão, de alguma forma, em rota de colisão com a NATO; ambos estão contra as privatizações de empresas públicas e a globalização (neo)liberal. Claro que é excessivo afirmar que as causas são exactamente as mesmas e que não há propostas vincadas ideologicamente, à direita e à esquerda. Mas, para um eleitorado com menos consciência ideológica e revoltado com os partidos de poder, considerar votar num ou noutro pela similitude dos alvos das críticas, não parece nada de extraordinário.
5. Independentemente de quem ganhar as eleições presidenciais, a França já é uma festa para os populismos de direita e de esquerda. Longe vão os tempos em que era internacionalmente conhecida e celebrada na literatura e no cinema, pelo seu gosto refinado, pela capacidade de ditar modas e pela vida boémia e intelectual parisiense. No século XX, o livro do escritor norte-americano Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast, traduzido para português como “Paris é uma Festa”, foi talvez o que mais difundiu essa imagem. Mas importa também não idealizar o passado. Nos anos 1920, na altura em Hemingway passou por Paris, já germinavam na sociedade francesa e europeia os extremismos e radicalismos, à direita (fascismo) e à esquerda (comunismo), que marcaram a primeira metade do século XX e se confrontaram na II Guerra Mundial. Os males eram outros, mas não eram menores, pelo contrário. Apesar de tudo, nos tempos conturbados que hoje vivemos, essas memórias das tragédias do século XX têm impedido, pelo menos até agora, as piores derivas políticas.
sábado, 22 de abril de 2017
Aujourd'hui / Hoje / Today ...
France’s identity crisis: ‘People just don’t know what to think any more’
France goes to the polls on Sunday in a presidential election shaped by economic insecurity, cultural paranoia and terrorism. Natalie Nougayrède travels to the south-west and tries to make sense of the most important vote of her lifetime
Saturday 22 April 2017 07.00 BST Last modified on Saturday 22 April 2017 08.28 BST
The quiet, lovely medieval towns and soft, rolling hills covered with orchards and vineyards of south-west France are an unlikely setting for a citizens’ uprising. Yet just days before the presidential election, conversations with the inhabitants of this once leftwing region, stretching from the city of Toulouse to the rural settings of the Tarn-et-Garonne, offer a glimpse into France’s mood of rage and confusion. Popular resentment, fears and frustrations set the stage for a major political upheaval, almost 60 years after De Gaulle founded the country’s Fifth Republic.
France is a republican quasi-monarchy. Its institutions are centred on the president. But what is at stake in this vote isn’t just the choice of a personality, nor only an economic or political programme. The very essence of France’s democracy hangs in the balance, as well as the survival of the 60-year-old European project. Much of what is at work resembles the trends that produced Brexit in Britain and Trump in the US – not least the disgruntlement of those who feel they have lost out to globalisation. But there are also specific, distinct elements of a collective French identity crisis.
In the town of Moissac, a doctor in her 50s describes the mood this way: “We are experiencing a huge evolution, and it might well become a revolution. It would only take a spark.” “People are fed up and disorientated,” says a shopkeeper in Montauban, a town 30 miles north of Toulouse. “Many don’t yet know how they’ll vote, but be sure they will want to kick some bums. Things can’t go on like this”.
The French are notorious for complaining, and for their divisiveness. “How is it possible to govern a country that produces 246 varieties of cheese?” De Gaulle once asked. Brooding is a national sport. Surveys have shown the French are more pessimistic than Iraqis or Afghans . It’s hard to square this with the living standards of the world’s fifth largest economy, a country of high social protection and well-developed infrastructure, which has known 70 years of peace. But these are difficult, mind-boggling times. If comments from people in France’s south-west are anything to go by, then populist, extremist and even conspiratorial views are likely to define much of what will happen on Sunday and beyond.
Scandals have upended this campaign and have added to the voters’ rejection of the political class. The French hark after change, but many are also nostalgic for “life the way it once was”. Confusion is rife, not least because once solid references have come undone, and the trauma of terrorism has rattled the national mindset.
“They’re all corrupt”. “They’ve too long taken us for a ride.” “We can’t believe them any more”. So say voters as soon as they are asked about politicians here. Disgust has run high since a series of financial scandals started dogging two of the presidential candidates: François Fillon, the mainstream rightwing contender, who paid his family members large amounts of parliamentary funds, and Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader, whose party stands accused of misusing EU money.
But what is striking is that angry voters hardly make any distinction between the candidates: the entire political class gets lumped into one single bag of opprobrium. “They’re busy buying themselves beautiful suits and, meanwhile, I know people here who sleep in their car because they can’t find a job or affordable housing,” says a cafe owner in Montauban’s working-class neighbourhood.
Christophe Sanz, a supporter of French centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, glues a campaign poster next to a poster of far-right candidate Marine le Pen, in Bayonne, southwestern France. Photograph: Bob Edme/AP
Lies and corruption have taken their toll on French politics before – in the 1980s, Francois Mitterrand’s presidency was tainted by controversies over party funding, and scandals also erupted around Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy. Yet the toxic combination today is that low political morality sits alongside a widespread perception of national decline. Demagogues peddling fake promises have thrived on this.
“We used to cherish values like patriotism,” a 40-year-old ticket salesman at Toulouse airport tells me. “I’m from the Bearn [another part of the south-west], with a modest background. My father toiled the land, and then he set up a small agricultural equipment business. Everyone worked hard and there was pride, and pride in our country. Now, all of that has gone to the rubbish heap”.
He’s “not scared of a Le Pen win”, he says. “Things need to be shaken up – many of my friends say likewise. We’ve tried the right, we’ve tried the left – now we might as well try her out.” His girlfriend works for the municipal social services, and as he mentions this a tinge of anti-Arab or anti-Muslim sentiment creeps in: “The things she sees! People coming to claim benefits for their kid who spends 11 months of the year in Tunisia. It’s simple – if you work in social services, that means you once voted for the left, but now you vote for Le Pen.”
For decades, the left-right divide defined how voters behaved. Now, it has been blurred. With the fragmentation of France’s postwar parties, many people seem ready to cast a ballot not according to once well-identified, ideological affinities, but in search of who – or what – will best express a sense of revolt.
A cigarette salesman in Montauban, in his 30s, says he is thinking of switching from Le Pen to Jean-Luc Mélanchon, the leftwing firebrand who has been rising in polls recently. The salesman struggles to explain why. “They say Le Pen has said something controversial recently,” he says. “I’m not sure what” – a possible reference to the outcry that followed Le Pen’s recent statement about France not being responsible for the deportation of Jews under the Vichy regime.
It’s not that the past is entirely forgotten. Instead, it gets manipulated – and that is far from anodyne in a country where history and notions of grandeur frame the national psyche. Many yearn for a long-lost era, one they glorify. In conversations, memories of the 1960s and 70s – the years before mass unemployment became permanent – are often recalled. From the 1980s onwards, the unemployment rate never fell below 7%; today it stands at 10% nationally and 24% among 18- 24-year-olds. The remembered golden age was the era of the so-called “glorious three decades” of France’s postwar rebuilding and development. That was also a time, people say, when France’s voice was heard loudly on the world stage.
More than 58% of the population now own a smartphone, and many families have become used to low-cost travel and holidays in the sun, but a majority says day-to-day life has gone from bad to worse. Seeking scapegoats, whether among the rich, the “establishment” (including the media) or among foreigners, has become commonplace.
There is more to this than just economics. “We used to pay more attention to one another,” says a woman pushing a pram on the cobblestones of Montauban’s old central square. “We helped friends out when they were in trouble. Now we’re all on the internet and people are insufferable. They want everything instantly, as if in a click.”
In a recent book on French political rage, political analyst Brice Teinturier highlights a statistic he believes is “decisive in understanding French society” today: the number of people who say they are “increasingly inspired by the values of the past” has grown from 34% in 2006 to 47% in 2014. This has underpinned the campaign of François Fillon, who has given sweeping speeches paying homage to France’s Catholic roots, including one last week in the symbolic city of Puy-en-Velay, from where the first crusade was launched in the 11th century.
It is also found in Marine Le Pen’s vision of a “national preference”. And although it may seem paradoxical, there is no less awkward nostalgia in Mélenchon’s calls to uphold radical secularism, of the sort the Third Republic introduced in the early 20th century, and that the communists also promoted.
Montauban’s mosque opened a decade ago, not far from the railway station. It’s a nondescript house, its bottom floor converted into a prayer room. There is not enough space, so prayer mats have been laid out outside in the courtyard. In this rural region, the Muslim minority are mostly families of Moroccans who came to work as fruit pickers in the 1950s and 60s. One a warm afternoon, a few old men sit in the shade and tell me with sad voices how hard it is to get the mayor’s permission to build another new, and this time, proper mosque.
France’s colonial history in the Arab world sets it apart from other European countries that had empires. For one thing, it means the echoes of Middle Eastern chaos resonate here in a different, more acute way. That in 2015 the socialist government declared the country “at war” after a series of terrorist attacks, whose perpetrators were mostly born and bred in France, hasn’t helped.
The first of these assaults was in 2012, when a young Franco-Algerian gunned down soldiers in Montauban, and then Jewish children in Toulouse. The Muslim population became the focus of intense police attention. Niqabs can occasionally be seen on the streets of Montauban, mostly worn by young people. They appeared a few years ago. Local authorities ascribe this to the penetration of radical Salafi Islam among a narrow, but apparently growing, minority.
When I asked a shopkeeper for directions to the mosque, he frowned disapprovingly, but nonetheless showed me the way. It is striking that most voters, when you ask about immigration, don’t mention local Muslims but refugees from afar. This is a surprise, considering how few refugees France has taken in, certainly compared with Germany. “Of course,” says a pensioner, “Syrians suffer and need to be helped, but it’s not normal that refugees are immediately given comfortable housing, whereas some locals are kept on waiting lists.”
He then names three local towns where he believes refugees have settled. After a quick check, it turns out none of them has had any arrivals.
In a local bookshop, I find a history of the Tarn-et-Garonne. It describes how, in the summer of 1940, when Belgium and half of France were invaded by Nazi troops, tens of thousands of refugees flooded the area. The population of some towns and villages more than doubled. People coped.
Today, some do remember that past. In the village of Sainte-Thècle Montesquieu, an 86-year-old farmer recalls how, in his childhood, members of the resistance hid in the forests and planted bombs on railway tracks to disrupt Nazi convoys. His whole family, including the grandchildren, cares deeply about salvaging the European project, and say they will vote accordingly tomorrow.
The Moissac doctor says the same. She and her friends will cast a ballot for the young centrist Emmanuel Macron – “because Europe is important” and because he wants to reform the country’s economy and educational system “like Scandinavian countries have done”.
Macron’s optimism contrasts with the gloom and anger on which other candidates want to capitalise. But the doctor quickly adds, with a smile, that her views are those of a “bobo” (“bourgeois-bohème”, or educated and privileged liberal). They don’t reflect the majority. In the 2015 regional elections, Le Pen’s party polled 35% in this part of the country.
This is France’s 10th presidential election since direct universal suffrage was introduced in 1962. Never has there been a vote that so deeply questioned the nation’s complex definition of what binds, or ought to bind, its citizens together. “People just don’t know what to think any more,” a crew member from Toulouse tells me on the plane back to Paris, “and many don’t know how to vote.”
French polls show populist fever is here to stay as globalisation makes voters pick new sides
Rift between global market’s winners and losers has replaced the old left-right split
Sunday 23 April 2017 00.03 BST
All over Europe and the US, the populist dynamic is surfing on two basic trends: the demise of the traditional middle classes and the emergence of a multicultural society. The populist fever that has seized France, the UK and the US is consequently here to stay, reflecting a profound shift in western society and heralding political re-alignment along new social, territorial and cultural faultlines.
One of the forces driving the populist dynamic is the gradual sapping of the social categories which used to form the basis of the middle classes. In France, Britain, the Netherlands, Austria and the US the same people – blue- and white-collar workers, intermediate occupations and farmers – are joining the populist revolt. Moreover, this movement started long ago. Support for Trump is rooted in the rise of financial capitalism which started during the Clinton era. Brexit goes back to the rollback of industry initiated by Thatcher. In France, the (far-right) Front National (FN) began gaining momentum when heavy industry went into decline in the 1980s.
So does this mean that the globalised model is not working? Not at all, but it is absurd to look at the global economy in binary terms, for or against. For or against neoliberalism. The truth is that this model, primarily based on an international division of labour, creates substantial wealth but does nothing to bond society as a whole. The job market has become deeply polarised and mainly concentrated in big cities, squeezing out the middle classes. For the first time in history, working people no longer live in the places where jobs and wealth are created.
Those groups, which have lost out due to globalisation, no longer identify with traditional political parties. The rift between the global market’s winners and losers has replaced the old right-left split. This social and political divide coincides with a visible faultline between global centres plugged into the world economy and deprived outlying areas.
All over the developed world the populist vote is gathering strength outside the big cities, in small and middling towns, and the countryside. In France these “peripheral” territories are driving the FN dynamic. In the US, the peripheral states put Trump in power, much as Brexit prevailed thanks to peripheral areas of the UK. In Austria support for Norbert Hofer, the far-right candidate in the recent presidential contest, comes from similar places. They are home to the majority of the working classes, disconnected and increasingly sedentary. Such territorial dynamics gather momentum as more mobile groups – the higher social classes, immigrants and minorities – concentrate in the cities. In this way the new social geography renews the old divide between sedentary and nomadic.
But social issues are not the only determinant of the populist vote. Identity is essential too, linked as it is to the emergence of a multicultural society, which feeds anxiety in working-class environments. At a time of fluctuating majorities and minorities, amid demographic instability, the fear of tipping into a minority is creating considerable cultural insecurity in developed countries. Unlike the upper classes, who can afford to raise invisible barriers between themselves and the “other” (immigrants or minorities), the working classes want a powerful state apparatus to protect them, socially and culturally. So the populist surge is re-activating a real class vote.
Christophe Guilluy is the author of Le crépuscule de la France d’en haut (The Twilight of Elite France)
French elections 2017: disintegrating left-right divide sets stage for political upheaval
Squeezed by Jean-Luc Mélenchon on one side and Emmanuel Macron on the other, the presidential contest could mean destruction for the Socialist party
Kim Willsher in Paris
Saturday 22 April 2017 22.00 BST Last modified on Sunday 23 April 2017 05.01 BST
French voters go to the polls on Sunday in the first round of a presidential election that to the very end has brought little consensus or comfort and only one certainty: the result will be a political upheaval, whoever wins.
Even as they walk into their bureau de vote, many will still be undecided, faced with paper slips for an unprecedented 11 candidates, only four of them thought to be serious contenders for the Elysée palace. There is a nail-biting sense that anything could happen.
Do they vote for or against? Do they choose a candidate who represents their politics or one who, opinion polls suggest, is most likely to defeat the woman whose presence as one of two candidates in the second-round runoff in a fortnight seems a given, but whose name still provokes a frisson of fear for many: the far-right Front National leader Marine Le Pen, with her anti-Europe, anti-immigration, “French-first” programme?
As election day has approached, and with the added complication of the terrorist threat following the shooting of a police officer on the Champs-Elysées in Paris, the dilemma has caused particular anguish for France’s mainstream leftwing voters, whose candidate is trailing in fifth place.
Election posters for the four leading candidates, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Emmanuel Macron, François Fillon and Marine Le Pen Photograph: Ian Langsdon/EPA
There are no certainties, but barring all other candidates “dropping from a nasty virus”, as one political analyst put it, Benoît Hamon is facing a crushing defeat in the first round, ending his leadership dreams and putting the future of the country’s Socialist party (PS) in question.
In a decline that mirrors that of Britain’s Labour party, the PS is facing years in a political desert, if it survives. If Hamon finishes last among the leading candidates, as polls predict, the party’s only hope of salvaging a thread of power will lie in winning enough parliamentary seats in the legislative elections that follow to form an influential group in the national assembly. Even then it will most likely be part of a coalition rather than a fully functioning opposition.
Even worse, and even more unthinkable, if leftwing voters turn en masse to Jean-Luc Mélenchon as their best hope of a place in the second round against the frontrunners – independent centrist Emmanuel Macron, Le Pen or the conservative François Fillon – and Hamon polls less than 5%, none of Hamon’s campaign expenses will be reimbursed, bankrupting the PS.
“Under 5% and the situation is really catastrophic,” Marc-Olivier Padis, of the Paris-based thinktank Terra Nova, told the Observer. “And it’s possible. We are hearing many socialists wondering if they should vote Mélenchon or Macron. The only thing that can save the party in this election is if enough socialists vote for Hamon out of loyalty.”
Now we have new forces. Macron is the root of that. Right now there is no longer a ‘right’ and a ‘left’
Long before the presidential election, the PS was riven by squabbling and a lack of consensus over its ideological direction, which left it divided and seemingly determined to embark on public fratricide.
In 2002, when the Socialist prime minister, Lionel Jospin, was beaten in the first-round presidential vote by Jean-Marie Le Pen, the defeat was considered as aberrant as it was shocking, and left the PS reeling and disoriented. It was still standing after a second trauma when the PS rent itself apart over the European treaty referendum in 2005.
This time the blow could be a knock-out. Today the party is being squeezed by Mélenchon – who quit the PS in 2008, dismayed at its drift into the liberal centre – on one side, and Macron, the former Socialist economy minister and poster boy for that economically liberal centre, on the other. It is what Mélenchon has described as the “nutcracker effect”. If neither the PS nor Les Républicains’ candidate, Fillon, reaches the second round, the whole of France’s political landscape will have changed.
Since the French Revolution, the country has been governed by various manifestations of one of two camps: right or left. The divide, known as the clivage gauche-droite, emerged from the turbulent summer of 1789, when the first national constituent assembly was formed. It enables the French to position themselves across a broad political spectrum, but always either side of this line.
The first article of the PS’s 1902 “declaration of principles” under its new leader, Jean Jaurès, stated the party’s aim to be the pursuit of “the class struggle and revolution”. In 1946 and in 1969 the revolutionary ideal was reaffirmed. By June 2008 it had been diluted to “fighting against injustice and for a better life”.
In January, Hamon, the surprise winner of the party primaries, set about taking the PS back to the future with a manifesto – including a minimum universal income – more in tune with its early 20th-century, socialist ideals.
Hamon, who is on the PS’s left wing, could have been forgiven for believing the primaries gave him a mandate to do this, after he defeated the former prime minister, Manuel Valls, seen as much too right-leaning. However, it quickly became clear he was not going to unite the fractious party behind his presidential campaign. One by one, PS heavyweights defected to Macron, a man who claims to be neither right nor left, or even centre, but makes no apology for being economically liberal and a social democrat, to the dismay of many PS stalwarts.
Hamon, who quit the Socialist government along with others in 2014, in disagreement with what they saw as the government’s austerity measures, could hardly brand them traitors. Dominique Reynié, founder of the thinktank Fondapol and a professor at Sciences Po university in Paris, said Hamon’s biggest mistake was to campaign on radical left territory. “Mélenchon is unbeatable on this ground, so even though it might reflect Hamon’s political convictions, it was a bad tactical position.
“Also, for the last few years, Benoît Hamon has been an adversary of [President] François Hollande. Today Socialists are saying, ‘You abandoned and betrayed us, you voted against us, you were disloyal to the party’ … and he’s being abandoned.”
Reynié, who once stood as a Les Républicains candidate in regional elections, says the PS’s future will depend on its results in the legislative elections.
“The PS will have to profoundly reform itself, but we should not underestimate the survival reflex of those local men and women who have an elected mandate and who are determined to keep their jobs. They will push for the party to defend itself on the ground and not abandon everything. It will be the same for Les Républicains.”
In many ways the trail to the Socialist party’s current decline leads back again to 2002, when Jospin’s defeat was blamed on sulky socialists voting for minor candidates or abstaining to give him a salutary rap over the knuckles for not being far enough to the left.
Padis says that, even under the autocratic François Mitterrand, French president between 1981 and 1995, the PS was cleft. “Even back then there were major disagreements about almost everything except the need for alternating left-right governments,” he says. “Today they don’t even agree on that. This ideological divide at the centre of the party means the PS could disappear.”
Pascal Perrineau, president of Sciences Po’s respected political research institute, Cevipof, believes this presidential election marks the end of “traditional” parties. “The PS no longer has a structure, a goal or respect, and has become irreconcilable,” he says. “For more than a century the PS has guided the left, but now we have the appearance of forces that are new. Macron is the root of that phenomenon, he is a political UFO. Right now there is no longer a ‘right’ and a ‘left’.”
ELECTORAL TIMELINE – AND WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN NEXT
8am Sunday Polls open in mainland France.
From 7pm Polls close outside major cities. Counting begins.
An early estimate of the result will be made, based on 800 polling stations outside major cities, chosen to be representative of the country as a whole.
8pm City polls close. Preliminary results published. In the past, these results have been confirmed by the final count, but this election is close, and there are many candidates, which introduces a greater element of uncertainty.
23 April-7 May
The two leading candidates campaign for the second-round runoff.
7 May Repeat of above first- round vote procedure.