The GPM Global Forecast is a bi-weekly, members-only article series for 2017. It provides analysis and short-term forecasting on key military, political, and economic events around the globe.
No Surprises Here: Macron and Le Pen Proceed to Second Round in French Presidential Elections
The first round results for France’s presidential election are in, with centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron coming out on top (23.75%) and right-wing Marine Le Pen taking second place (21.53%). Pollsters had been predicting a close race, and they were right in the end. The scandal-ridden Francois Fillon took 19.91% and far-left Jean-Luc Melenchon received 19.64%, both narrowly missing the top-two cutoff for the second round.
The result is being presented as a major defeat for France’s establishment parties, and while there is some truth to this interpretation, most of the political damage here was self-inflicted. Current president Francois Hollande is so deeply unpopular that he tried to preempt humiliation by not standing for a second term. His move did not spare the Socialists a drubbing at the polls though, as Benoit Hamon took just 6% of the vote, with most of his support shifting to the firebrand Melenchon. Francois Fillon, the standard bearer of the establishment center-right, was doomed by a series of scandals involving the misuse of public funds to pay family and friends for jobs they did not do – a particularly grievous crime given the anti-elite mood sweeping through French politics. Just the fact that he garnered almost enough to enter the second round is a surprise given that most were expecting him to bow out of the race when the scandal first broke.