||This article documents a current election. Information may change rapidly as the election progresses, until official results have been published. Initial news reports may be unreliable, and the last updates to this article may not reflect the most current information. (April 2017)|
Results of the first round by department Emmanuel Macron Marine Le Pen François Fillon
The first round of the 2017 French presidential election was held on 23 April 2017. As no candidate won a majority, a run-off election between the top two candidates, Emmanuel Macron of En Marche! and Marine Le Pen of the National Front (FN), will be held on 7 May 2017. Incumbent president François Hollande of the Socialist Party (PS) was eligible to run for a second term, but declared on 1 December 2016 that he would not seek reelection in light of low approval ratings, making him the first incumbent president of the Fifth Republic not to seek re-election. This is also the first French presidential election in which nominees of both the main centre-left and centre-right parties were selected through open primaries. The presidential election will be followed by a legislative election to elect members of the National Assembly on 11 and 18 June.
François Fillon of the Republicans (LR), after winning the party’s first ever open primary, and Marine Le Pen of the National Front led first-round opinion polls in November 2016 and mid-January 2017. Polls tightened considerably by late January, and after the satirical weekly Le Canard enchaîné published revelations that Fillon possibly employed family members in fictitious jobs as parliamentary assistants in what came to be colloquially known as “Penelopegate“, Emmanuel Macron of En Marche! overtook Fillon to place consistently second in first-round polling. At the same time, Benoît Hamon won the Socialist Party primary, entering fourth place in the polls. After strong debate performances, Jean-Luc Mélenchon of La France insoumise began to rise significantly in polls in late March, overtaking Hamon to place just below Fillon.
Estimates of the first-round result, as well as ballot counts published by the Interior Ministry, indicate that Macron and Le Pen will continue to the 7 May runoff. It is the first time since 2002 that a National Front candidate continued to the second round and the first time in the history of the Fifth Republic that the runoff will not include a nominee of the traditional centre-left or centre-right parties; their combined share of the vote, at approximately 26%, was also a historic low.
|Candidate||Party||1st round||2nd round|
|Emmanuel Macron||En Marche!||EM||8,437,940||23.90%|
|Marine Le Pen||National Front||FN||7,564,991||21.42%|
|François Fillon||The Republicans||LR||7,041,511||19.94%|
|Jean-Luc Mélenchon||La France insoumise||FI||6,907,100||19.56%|
|Benoît Hamon||Socialist Party||PS||2,244,080||6.35%|
|Nicolas Dupont-Aignan||Debout la France||DLF||1,676,416||4.75%|
|Jean Lassalle||Résistons !||430,838||1.22%|
|Philippe Poutou||New Anticapitalist Party||NPA||389,245||1.10%|
|François Asselineau||Popular Republican Union||UPR||325,889||0.92%|
|Nathalie Arthaud||Lutte Ouvrière||LO||229,965||0.65%|
|Jacques Cheminade||Solidarity and Progress||S&P||64,371||0.18%|
|Spoilt and null votes||935,448||2.58%|
|Sources: Constitutional Council, Ministry of the Interior|
|Speaking time of candidates and supporters from 1 February to 10 April recorded by the CSA|
The President of the French Republic is elected to a five-year term in a two-round election under Article 7 of the Constitution: if no candidate secures an absolute majority (including blank and void ballots) of votes in the first round, a second round is held two weeks later between the two candidates who received the most votes. In 2017, the first and second rounds are planned for 23 April and 7 May.
To be listed on the first-round ballot, candidates must secure 500 signatures (often referred to as parrainages) from national or local elected officials from at least 30 different departments or overseas collectivities, with no more than a tenth of these signatories from any single department. The official signature collection period followed the publication of the Journal officiel on 25 February to 17 March. The collection period had initially been scheduled to begin on 23 February, but a visit by Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve to China on that date forced a delay in the issue of the decree in the Journal officiel to start the sponsorship period. French prefectures mailed sponsorship forms to the 42,000 elected officials eligible to give their signature to a candidate, which must then be delivered to the Constitutional Council for validation. Unlike in previous years, a list of validated signatures was posted on Tuesday and Thursday of every week on the Council’s website; in the past, signatories were published only after the official candidate list had been verified after the end of the collection period. The end of the signature collection period also marked the deadline for the declaration of personal assets required of prospective candidates. The final list of candidates was proclaimed on 21 March.
The Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel (CSA) ensures that all candidates receive equal time in broadcast media “under comparable programming conditions” from 19 March onward. The CSA warned on 8 March that the amount of speaking time broadcasters had given Fillon and his supporters was “unusually high”, even given the unusual circumstances surrounding his candidacy. After the official start of the campaign on 10 April, the CSA will strictly enforce equal time in broadcast media. Campaigning for the first round of the election ends at midnight on 21 April, two days before the vote. The Constitutional Council will verify the results of the first round on 24–26 April and officially certify the vote tallies on 26 April; should a second round be held on 7 May, the same procedure will be used again. The new President of the French Republic will be proclaimed on 11 May and undergo their investiture ceremony on 14 May at the latest.
|Candidate (name and age)
and political party
|Political office(s)||Campaign logo||Details|
|Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (56)
Debout la France (DLF)
|President of Debout la France
Deputy for Essonne
Mayor of Yerres
|A former member of the RPR, RPF, and UMP, Dupont-Aignan left the last over disagreements with Nicolas Sarkozy on the eve of the 2007 presidential election, and subsequently founded the sovereignist political party Debout la République (DLR), later renamed to Debout la France (DLF) in 2014. He previously stood as a candidate in the 2012 presidential election, in which he garnered 1.79% of the vote in the first round. Claiming the mantle of Gaullism, he seeks to position himself between Le Pen and Fillon.|
|Marine Le Pen (48)
National Front (FN)
|President of the National Front
MEP for North-West France
|When Le Pen, a former lawyer, stood in the 2012 presidential election, she came in third with 17.90% of first-round votes. She rose within the ranks of the National Front (FN), founded and once led by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen, culminating in a bitter leadership struggle which she won in 2011. Her campaign program prioritizes the national interests of France and exit from the eurozone, and emphasizes her party’s traditional concern about security and immigration, as well as socioeconomic issues and the sovereignty of the French state, on matters of currency, borders, the economy, and the rule of law. Her campaign has been punctuated by judicial inquiries into her party and personal associates.|
|Emmanuel Macron (39)
En Marche! (EM!)
|President of En Marche!
Minister of the Economy, Industry, and Digital Affairs
|The youngest candidate in the race and a former economy minister who has never run for elected office, Macron describes himself as “neither of the right nor the left”. He was appointed deputy secretary-general of the Élysée in 2012 and became economy minister in 2014, lending his name to the “Macron law” to promote economic growth and opportunities. He founded the En Marche! movement in April 2016 before resigning from the cabinet on 30 August. The most explicitly pro-European of the candidates, Macron intends to implement reforms to modernize the French economy. Macron secured support across the political spectrum, but primarily among left-wing figures; notable supporters include perennial centrist candidate François Bayrou, president of the Democratic Movement (MoDem),and Minister of Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian.|
|Benoît Hamon (49)
Socialist Party (PS)
|Deputy for Yvelines
(2012 and since 2014)
|Hamon, a left-wing critic of Hollande‘s government, was the surprise winner of the Socialist primary in January 2017, defeating former Prime Minister Manuel Valls. Hamon’s primary victory was driven in part by his support for a universal basic income, which remained integral to his program. He negotiated the withdrawal and support of Yannick Jadot of Europe Ecology – The Greens (EELV) in February, becoming the joint candidate of both parties. He also advocates for the legalization of cannabis and reforming the structure of government to a “Sixth Republic”.|
|Nathalie Arthaud (47)
Lutte Ouvrière (LO)
|Spokesperson of Lutte Ouvrière
|Arthaud first ran for the presidency in the 2012 election under the LO banner, receiving 0.56% of votes in the first round. A professor of economics, she describes the objective of her candidacy as to “make the workers’ voice heard”, hoping to “allow workers, the unemployed, and exploited to defend their interests, as opposed to [those who pocketed] millions and millions”. She claims that she is the only communist candidate, and wants to see borders disappear and overthrow capitalism.|
|Philippe Poutou (50)
New Anticapitalist Party (NPA)
|Spokesperson of the New Anticapitalist Party
|A long-time left-wing militant, Poutou is a trade unionist and Ford mechanic in Blanquefort currently fighting the local factory’s shutdown. He also ran in the 2012 presidential election, obtaining 1.15% of votes. He launched his political activities at Lutte Ouvrière before joining the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR) which became the NPA in 2009. With Marxist and anarchist roots, he crusades against capitalism and espouses radical-left ideas.|
|Jacques Cheminade (75)
Solidarity and Progress (S&P)
|President of Solidarity and Progress
|Cheminade founded Solidarity and Progress in 1996 and is the figurehead of the LaRouche movement in France. He proposes leaving NATO, the EU, the eurozone, and returning to the franc. He supports colonization of the Moon to facilitate exploration of Mars. He was a candidate twice before, in 1995 and 2012, collecting 0.28% and 0.25% of the vote, respectively, but failed to appear on the ballot in 1981, 1988, 2002, and 2007.|
|Jean Lassalle (61)
|Deputy for the Pyrénées-Atlantiques
Mayor of Lourdios-Ichère
|Lassalle, a former member of the Democratic Movement (MoDem) and associate of François Bayrou running under the banner of Resistons !, considers himself the “defender of rural territories and a humanist ecology”. He became famous for a successful 39-day hunger strike protesting the movement of the Total factory from Accous to the Lacq basin 65 km (40 mi) away. In 2013, he walked 6,000 km (3,700 mi) on foot to “meet the French”.|
|Jean-Luc Mélenchon (65)
La France insoumise (FI)
|MEP for South-West France
|Denouncing the “liberal drift” of the party, Mélenchon left the PS in 2008 to found the Left Party. He attempted a previous run in 2012, coming in fourth with 11.10% of votes, with the backing of the French Communist Party (PCF). The perennial critic of the Hollande government launched his 2017 bid without consulting the PCF, instead choosing to found his own movement, La France insoumise (FI). He later won the PCF’s support by a narrow margin. His program underlines left-wing and environmental principles, including the establishment of a Sixth Republic, redistribution of wealth, renegotiating EU treaties, environmental planning, and protecting the independence of France, namely from the United States. He ran an innovative campaign, gathering a large following on social media, and holding simultaneous meetings in multiple cities via hologram.|
|François Asselineau (59)
Popular Republican Union (UPR)
|President of the UPR
|A sovereignist, Asselineau surprised with his ability to secure the 500 sponsorships required to stand as a candidate. Formerly of the RPF and UMP, he founded the Popular Republican Union (UPR) in 2007 and agitates for the French exit from the EU. Sometimes classified as a far-right Eurosceptic, he denounces “American imperialism” and proposes leaving NATO.|
|François Fillon (63)
The Republicans (LR)
|Deputy for Paris
|Fillon led a prolific political career starting from the early 1970s. The surprise winner of the primary of the right offered a liberal economic program ending the 35-hour workweek, dismissing 500,000 civil servants, abolishing the wealth tax (ISF), streamlining the labour code, and reforming the health insurance system. However, his campaign was hobbled in January 2017 following the publication of allegations of fictitious employment of family members, including his wife, collectively known as “Penelopegate“. He initially said he would drop his bid if placed under formal investigation, but continued his candidacy after such investigations began on 15 March.|
Socialist Party (PS)
The 2017 presidential election was the first in the history of the Fifth Republic in which a sitting president did not seek a second term. On 1 December 2016, incumbent president François Hollande, acknowledging his low approval ratings, announced he would not seek a second term. His then-Prime Minister Manuel Valls declared that he would run in the Socialist primary on 5 December, but he was defeated by Benoît Hamon in its second round on 29 January.
Democratic Movement (MoDem)
François Bayrou, the three-time centrist presidential candidate and leader of the Democratic Movement (MoDem) – who came fourth in 2002, third in 2007, and fifth in 2012 – initially supported the candidacy of Alain Juppé in the primary of the right against his long-time adversary Nicolas Sarkozy, whom he vowed to run against if he won the primary. However, Fillon’s victory in the primary – which saw the elimination of Sarkozy in the first round and the defeat of Juppé in the runoff – led Bayrou to reconsider lodging a bid for the presidency, despite his 2014 election promise during his successful mayoral campaign in Pau that he would not seek the presidency if he won. After an extended period of suspense, he finally announced on 22 February that he would not run for a fourth time, instead proposing a conditional alliance with Emmanuel Macron, who accepted his offer.
Europe Ecology – The Greens (EELV)
On 9 July 2016, Europe Ecology – The Greens (EELV) announced that it would hold a primary election before the 2017 presidential election. Those wishing to be nominated required the support of 36 of its “federal councilors” out of 240; nominations were open to individuals in civic society as well. The vote was open to both party members as well as sympathizers who could register to vote in the primary. The announcement came just days after prominent environmentalist Nicolas Hulot‘s surprise declaration that he would not offer himself as a presidential candidate on 5 July. EELV were the first party to hold a presidential primary for the 2017 election, with two rounds held on 19 October and 7 November 2016. It was contested by deputy, former Minister of Territorial Equality and Housing, and ex-party leader Cécile Duflot, as well as three MEPs – Karima Delli, Yannick Jadot, and Michèle Rivasi.
Duflot was considered the early favorite, though she initially opposed holding a primary, aware of the risk that she might lose it; and highlighted her experience in government. Her main proposal was to incorporate the fight against climate change into the Constitution. Jadot was perceived as her main challenger; elected as an MEP in 2009, he worked with Greenpeace France from 2002 to 2008, specializing in transatlantic trade and climate issues. With Thomas Piketty and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, he sought a “primary of all the left”, which failed to materialize. He rejected the “candidacy awaited by the political-media world” – that of Duflot, among others – and represented an anti-Duflot force from the party’s right wing. Rivasi only barely managed to qualify for the primary, earlier lacking the necessary sponsorships. Like Jadot, she represents the militant wing of the party – albeit on its left flank – and served as deputy for Drôme from 1997 to 2002 and led Greenpeace France from 2003 to 2004. Delli, the daughter of Algerian immigrants, first became involved in politics as part of collective movements, and sought to become an MEP in 2009 after a stint as parliamentary assistant to Marie-Christine Blandin. Also of the party’s left-wing, she declared that she would defend a “popular ecology” and hoped to outmaneuver Jadot to the second round.
Jadot and Rivasi advanced to the runoff after scoring 35.61% and 30.16%, respectively, in the first round; the other two candidates were eliminated, with Duflot garnering 24.41% and Delli 9.82%. Jadot won the second round of the primary on 7 November, obtaining 54.25% of the vote against Rivasi’s 40.75%, becoming the nominee of the EELV in the presidential election. Jadot, who claimed 496 sponsorships just before the opening of the collection period,withdrew his candidacy on 23 February and endorsed Hamon, the pair having agreed on a common platform. An online vote among EELV primary voters from 24 and 26 February was required to confirm the agreement; an earlier vote to open talks with Hamon and Mélenchon was approved by 89.7% of those electors. The Hamon–Jadot alliance was consummated on 26 February; among those who cast a vote, 79.53% voted to support it, with 15.39% opposed and 5.08% submitting blank ballots, and an overall voter turnout of 55.25% (9,433 votes). This marks the first election since 1969 without a green candidate.
The Republicans (LR)
After his loss as the nominee of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) in the 2012 presidential election, ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy pledged to return to being a “Frenchman among the French”. However, he announced on 19 September 2014 that he would seek the presidency of the party, a position he secured in an online vote on 29 November online vote with the backing of 64.50% of party members, against his main opponent Bruno Le Maire‘s 29.18%. He succeeded the triumvirate of Alain Juppé, François Fillon, and Jean-Pierre Raffarin, which assumed the party’s leadership after the resignation of Jean-François Copé. Sarkozy was initially reluctant to accept the idea of holding a right-wing primary for the 2017 presidential election, but on 25 September 2014 he declared his support for a primary of the right after a warning from Juppé, who on 20 August made public his intention to run for the nomination.
The rules of the primary were confirmed in April 2015, scheduling the first round of an open primary for 20 November 2016, with a runoff on 27 November if no candidate received more than 50% of the vote. Those wishing to vote were required to pay €2 per ballot and sign a charter indicating their adherence to “Republican values of the right and centre”. In order to appear on the ballot, prospective candidates needed to present sponsorships from 250 elected officials, including at least 20 parliamentarians from at least 30 departments, with no more than a tenth from the same department, in addition to the signatures of at least 2,500 party members across at least 15 departments, with no more than a tenth from the same department. The charter permitted other parties wishing to participate to set their own sponsorship requirements. The High Authority ultimately determined that seven candidates qualified to compete in the open primary of the right and centre: Fillon, Juppé, Le Maire, Copé, Sarkozy, and Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet of the Republicans, the party’s name after May 2015,as well as Jean-Frédéric Poisson of the Christian Democratic Party (PCD), who was not required to present signatures as the leader of another party. The National Centre of Independents and Peasants (CNIP) were also allowed to participate, but not to present a candidate.
The primary was initially fought primarily between Juppé and Sarkozy, the top two candidates in primary polls. Sarkozy’s program emphasized the themes of Islam, immigration, security, and defense. He proposed to end family reunifications and reform the right to birthright citizenship, halt the flow of economic migrants, and increase residence requirements to secure French nationality. He reaffirmed his interest in the “assimilation” of immigrants, and intended to ban other menus for school canteens (i.e., options for Muslim students) as well as Muslim headscarves at universities. Sarkozy also suggested that radical imams be expelled and suspected terrorists be detained by authorities and tried by a special anti-terrorist court, in addition a reduction in the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16. He proposed to postpone the increase the retirement age to 64 until 2024, permit exemptions to the 35-hour workweek, cut 300,000 civil service jobs by increasing working hours to 37 per week, and abolish the wealth tax (ISF). Like Le Maire, he did not rule out the possibility of a referendum on the European Union (EU). He also sought a European treaty “refounding”, the creation of a European monetary fund, to commit 2% to defense spending by 2025, and to reduce public spending by €100 billion and taxes by €40 billion while reducing the budget deficit to under 3% of GDP.
In contrast to Sarkozy, Juppé spoke of a “happy identity” and emphasized the importance of integration as opposed to assimilation. He supported drawing up a common list of “safe countries” to differentiate refugees from economic migrants, setting a “quota” on immigrants as necessary, and to stop providing foreign aid to countries refusing to comply with their obligation to accept deported citizens. He questioned Sarkozy’s proposals on Schengen and instead merely acknowledged that it was not functioning correctly, but concurred with him in exempting the acquisition of French nationality by foreigners at the age of 18 if previously convicted. Juppé also demanded transparency on the funding of places of worship, civic training for imams, and, unlike Sarkozy, favored allowing women to wear the Muslim headscarf at universities. On economic issues, he proposed to end the 35-hour workweek, abolish the wealth tax, reduce corporate taxation, and set the retirement age at 65. He also pledged to slash in half the number of parliamentarians, renegotiate Schengen, and increase defense spending in absolute terms by at least €7 billion by 2022.
After several strong debate performances by Fillon, however, a second-round Juppé–Sarkozy duel no longer appeared inevitable. Fillon’s rise was propelled by his proposals for a rigorous economic program. Seeking €100 billion in cuts, he proposed eliminating 500,000 civil service jobs by 2022 and a return to the 39-hour workweek for civil servants. Like the other primary candidates, he planned to eliminate the wealth tax; in addition, Fillon suggested abolishing the 35-hour workweek – capping it at the 48-hour maximum allowed within the EU – and the implementation of other liberal economic measures. He also adopted a staunchly conservative social program, opposing adoption by same-sex couples and arguing France had no religious problem apart from Islam itself. Like Sarkozy, he sought to expand the capacity of French prisons, but unlike his former superior, he opposed banning religious symbols in public places. He also professed a more pro-Russian stance than other candidates, urging cooperation in Syria against the Islamic State and supporting the “pragmatism” of Vladimir Putin‘s intervention in the Syrian civil war.
The first round of the primary on 20 November saw the unexpected elimination of Sarkozy, with Fillon coming in first with 44.1%, Juppé at 28.6%, and Sarkozy at 20.7% of the vote, and all other candidates far behind. A second round between Fillon and Juppé was confirmed, and Sarkozy announced that he would vote for his former Prime Minister soon after the results became clear. Fillon scored a landslide victory in the 27 November runoff with 66.5% of the vote to Juppé’s 33.5% and became the Republicans’ nominee; voter turnout – at 4.4 million – was even higher than in the first round.
Socialist Party (PS)
At the 2012 Toulouse Congress, the Socialist Party (PS) modified its statutes to guarantee the selection of a candidate of the left through open primaries, with the National Council of the Socialist Party announcing the timetable and organization of the primaries at least one year beforehand. On 11 January, Libération published an editorial in favor of a “primary of the left and ecologists”, and on 9 April the National Council of the Socialist Party unanimously approved the idea of holding a such a primary in early December. On 18 June, the National Council finally confirmed that it would organize a primary to select a candidate for the 2017 presidential election. Applications could be submitted from 1 to 15 December, with two rounds of voting planned for 22 and 29 January 2017. Prospective PS candidates were required to sign the primary’s charter of ethics requiring candidates to rally behind its winner and to secure the support of 5% of one of the following groups: members of the National Council; Socialist parliamentarians, regional and departmental Socialist councilors in at least 4 regions and 10 departments; or Socialist mayors representing more than 10,000 people in at least 4 regions and 10 departments. The conditions for becoming a the candidate of other member parties of the BAP – the PRG, UDE, PE, and Democratic Front (FD) – were determined by the respective parties’ leadership.
The EELV declared on 20 June that it would not participate in the primary, and the French Communist Party (PCF) did likewise the following day. After declaring his candidacy for the presidential election, Emmanuel Macron of En Marche! also declined to participate,as did Jean-Luc Mélenchon under the banner of La France insoumise, saying that he did not want to run in a primary with François Hollande since he would not be able to support Hollande if he won. He later reaffirmed this by saying that with the exclusion of the EELV and PRG the primary was not truly “of the left” but a “primary of the Socialist Party”. On 1 December, Hollande declared that he would not seek a second term, becoming the first President of the Fifth Republic to renounce a reelection bid. His announcement reflected his high personal unpopularity and resentment among Socialist colleagues regarding remarks he made about cabinet members and other associates in the book Un président ne devrait pas dire ça… (A president should not say that…) by Gérard Davet and Fabrice Lhomme, journalists at Le Monde.
On 17 December, the High Authority declared that seven candidates qualified to appear on the ballot: four from the Socialist Party – former Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Arnaud Montebourg, Benoît Hamon, and Vincent Peillon – and François de Rugy of the PE, Sylvia Pinel of the PRG, and Jean-Luc Bennahmias of the PD. Early opinion polling placed Valls and Montebourg first and second, respectively, with Hamon a close third. Shortly after declaring his candidacy on 5 December, Valls proposed to abolish article 49.3 of the French constitution, a procedure that allows bypassing legislative approval, in a “democratic renaissance”; as Prime Minister, he invoked it on six occasions, using it to pass the Macron and El Khomri laws. He also proposed a 2.5% increase in public spending while keeping the budget deficit under 3%, guaranteeing a “decent income” of €800, reducing the gender pay gap by half, pausing the enlargement of the European Union, appending a charter of secularism to the Constitution, consolidating the nuclear industry, and mandating six months of civic service. He was twice physically attacked during the primary campaign: on 22 December, he was flour-bombed by a protester in Strasbourg saying “we do not forget [the 49.3]!”, and on 17 January, he was slapped by a young Breton regionalist in Lamballe, who was subsequently charged.
Former Minister of the Economy Arnaud Montebourg, a Socialist rebel known for promoting “made in France”, presented a firmly left-wing project shortly after declaring his candidacy in August 2016. He promised to offer French enterprises preference in bidding, reverse the 2011 tax increases on the French middle class, and repeal most of the El Khomri labor law while preserving certain “interesting” social protections such as the “right to disconnect” and “personal activity account”. Critical of European austerity, he declared that he would defy the requirement to maintain a budget deficit under 3% of GDP and intended to strengthen intelligence services, require six months of civic service, and achieve gender equality. He also proposed €30 billion in spending to stimulate economic growth, lower the general social contribution (CSG) to increase individuals’ purchasing power by €800 a year, create 5,000 new posts in hospitals, call a referendum on a new republic, promulgate a law on the separation of banking activities (as Hollande did), impose a European carbon tax, and establish a national anti-terrorism prosecutor.
The signature proposal of Benoît Hamon was the implementation a universal basic income for all French citizens, rolled out in stages beginning in 2018, partially funded by a tax levied on property combining the existing property tax (taxe foncière) and the solidarity tax on wealth (ISF), in addition to a tax on robots to fund social protections in general. Like fellow Socialist dissidents, Hamon criticized the El Khomri labor law and promised to repeal it if elected, and suggested that it be replaced with legislation acknowledging the need for greater social protections, including the right to disconnect and recognizing burnout as an occupational disease. He also proposed to reduce the 35-hour workweek to 32 hours, saying that it was time to put an end to the “myth” of economic growth. Another of his flagship proposals was to legalize cannabis, using funds for “prevention” rather than “repression”.
In the first round of the primary on 22 January, Hamon and Valls received 36.03% and 31.48%, respectively, and advanced to the runoff on 29 January. Montebourg, who secured only 17.52% of votes, declared that he would cast his second-round vote for Hamon soon after the result became apparent. Among the remaining candidates, Peillon secured 6.81% of the vote, de Rugy 3.83%, Pinel 2.00%, and Bennahmias 1.02%. Overall turnout stood at 1.66 million. The legitimacy of the first-round results published by the organizers of the primary was questioned by observers in the French press, who noted that an overnight update added 352,013 votes without significantly changing each candidate’s percentage, with vote totals for each candidate increasing by 28%. Christophe Borgel, president of the organizing committee of the primary, claimed that the anomaly was nothing more than a “bug” induced by pressure to update the level of participation in the first round, effectively acknowledging that the results of the primary were manipulated. Only on 23 January did the High Authority of the primary publish “validated” results. In the second round of the primary on 29 January, Hamon defeated Valls by a comfortable margin, 58.69% to 41.31%; turnout, at 2.05 million, was considerably higher than in the first round. As the winner of the primary, Hamon became the Socialist nominee for president.
On 22 February, François de Rugy announced his support for Emmanuel Macron, breaking the commitment requested of former candidates to back the winner of the primary. While acknowledging that Hamon was the legitimate PS nominee, de Rugy said he preferred “coherence to obedience”. On 13 March, Le Parisien reported that Valls, rather than backing Hamon, would urge voters to support Macron in the first round of the presidential election; Valls denied the report at the time, but on 29 March declared that he would vote for Macron but would not rally behind his candidacy. On 8 April the High Authority of the PS reminded party members to abide by the “principle of loyalty”. On 15 March, the PRG announced its support for Hamon, securing concessions on issues pertaining to European governance, and confirmed an agreement with the Socialist Party for the legislative elections; this followed a period of hesitation after the primary in which the party contemplated Macron’s candidacy, which secured several of its parliamentarians’ support.
Fillon affair (Penelopegate)
On 25 January 2017, the satirical weekly Le Canard enchaîné published an article alleging that Penelope Fillon, wife of François Fillon, was employed as a parliamentary assistant by her husband from 1998 and 2002 and for six months in 2012 with no evidence that she completed any substantial work, while collecting a monthly salary of €3,900 to €4,600. After her husband’s appointment as Minister of Social Affairs in 2002 and later tenure as Minister of National Education, she served as a parliamentary aide to Marc Joulaud, Fillon’s substitute, until 2007, earning a salary upwards of €7,900 during this period. In all, the article claimed that she received €500,000 as a parliamentary aide, in addition to €100,000 as a literary adviser to the Revue des deux Mondes, whose president Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière is a close friend of François Fillon. While deputies in the National Assembly are permitted to employ family members, those are still required to complete legitimate work, evidence of which the paper was unable to find. The PNF (parquet national financier, or national financial prosecutor’s office) initiated a preliminary investigation into possible embezzlement and misuse of public funds the same day.
On 26 January, François Fillon appeared on TF1 to respond to allegations of the fictitious employment of his wife, stating that she had “edited my speeches” and “stood in for me at events when I couldn’t be there”, also claiming that the reason that she was never seen working in the Palais Bourbon was because “she was never on the front line”. In the interview, he also disclosed that he paid two of his children while a Senator for the Sarthe between 2005 and 2007, claiming that he did so for work in their capacity as lawyers. He also pledged to resign if he was personally placed under investigation. However, on 27 January, it was revealed that both Marie and Charles Fillon were only law students when they were employed by their father during his stint in the Senate, contrary to his earlier statements. Interrogated by investigators the same day, former editor-in-chief of the Revue des deux Mondes Michel Crépu claimed that only “two or maybe three” bylines in the review were attributed to her, also saying that he had seen “no trace” of any work by her that would “resemble [that of] a literary adviser”.
On 1 February, a week after its initial report, Le Canard enchaîné published revelations that the total sum received by Penelope Fillon in fictitious jobs apparently totaled more than €930,000; with the addition of the period from 1988 to 1990, her income as a parliamentary assistant now totaled €831,440. In addition, the satirical weekly also revealed that the payments to two of Fillon’s children reached nearly €84,000, with €57,084 net for Marie Fillon and €26,651 for Charles Fillon. Video excerpts of a May 2007 Sunday Telegraph interview with Penelope Fillon surfaced on 2 February in which she claimed that she had “never been his assistant”, referring to her husband; The footage aired on Envoyé spécial on France 2 that evening. The PNF expanded investigation into the fictitious employment affair to include Fillon’s two eldest children the same day to verify the veracity of their work, after Le Canard enchaîné reported that neither Marie nor Charles Fillon were lawyers at the time their father served in the Senate. In a video on 3 February, François Fillon insisted that he would maintain his candidacy and called on his supporters to “hold the line”, seeking to assuage worries from within his own camp about the maintenance of his candidacy.
On 6 February, Fillon held a press conference at which he “apologized to the French people” and acknowledged that he had committed an “error” in employing family members as parliamentary assistants, but appended that he “never broke the law”. He also argued that his wife’s “salary was perfectly justified”, adding that everything reported by the press on the issue was “legal and transparent”. He said he would not reimburse the payments received by his wife or children, and, saying that he had “nothing to hide”, divulged his property holdings. In addition to promising that his lawyers would question the competency of the PNF to carry out the investigation, he lambasted a “media lynching” of his campaign. His remarks followed Juppé’s declaration that “NO means NO” earlier in the day in response to rumors that he might replace Fillon as the party’s candidate should he decide to drop his bid.
Le Canard enchaîné continued its run of stories on Fillon in its issue of 8 February, revealing that Penelope Fillon collected severance payments totaling €45,000, with €16,000 in August 2002 for the period 1998–2002 and €29,000 in 2013 for seventeen months of employment for which she earned €65,839. The satirical weekly also asserted that she received a double salary during the summer of 2002, as she was hired by Joulaud’s office on 13 July, more than a month before her contract as a parliamentary assistant with her husband expired, on 21 August. Although aides are eligible to collect severance payments, the law does not permit such a high level for parliamentary assistants. An article in the same issue reported that Marie Fillon was simultaneously employed as a parliamentary assistant while training to become a lawyer, taking the first post in October 2005 and entering the EFB in January 2006. Fillon responded to the claims in a press release by saying that Le Canard enchaîné conflated the amount his wife collected in November 2013 with reported earnings in August 2007 after the conclusion of her work with Joulaud, and denounced the paper’s allegations as “lies”.
On 16 February, Fillon seemingly withdrew his earlier promise that he would terminate his candidacy if placed under formal investigation, saying “even if I am put under investigation, nothing will stop me” in private. In an interview with Le Figaro published on 17 February, he insisted on continuing his campaign, declaring “I am the candidate and I will continue until victory” and that the closer to the election it was, the “more scandalous it would be to deprive the right and centre of a candidate”. On 24 February the PNF finally opened a judicial investigation into the “embezzlement of public funds, […] influence-peddling and failure to comply with transparency obligations of the HATVP” against François Fillon, his wife, two of his children, and Marc Joulaud (who were left unnamed, presumably, to allow for expanding the investigation to other suspects, if necessary). The OCLCIFF, which failed to unearth any tangible proof of work by Fillon’s wife as a parliamentary assistant to her husband from 1988 to 1990, 1998 to 2000, and 2012 to 2013 or to Marc Joulaud from 2002 to 2007, and was unconvinced by the two reviews in the Revue des deux Mondes attributed to Penelope Fillon, tasked three investigative judges to continue pursuing the affair. These three judges were identified on 27 February as Serge Tournaire, Stéphanie Tacheau, and Aude Buresi.
On 1 March, Fillon was informed that he was summoned to appear before the judges and likely to be placed under formal investigation – generally a precursor to an eventual indictment – on 15 March. In the subsequent hours and days, hundreds of campaign members, allies, and supporters rescinded their support for Fillon, including the Union of Democrats and Independents (UDI), a centre-right party whose president Jean-Christophe Lagarde backed Juppé in the primary, suspended its participation in the campaign. fifteen campaign staffers, and hundreds of others; a total of 306 elected officials and members of the Fillon campaign withdrew their support for the candidate by 5 March. Many of those rescinding their support speculated about the potential return of Juppé to replace Fillon as the party’s candidate, with Fenech urging elected officials file sponsorships for the ex-primary candidate. Meanwhile, associates of Juppé indicated that he was apparently warming to the idea of stepping in to run if needed, “ready but loyal”.
Despite this chain of defections, François Fillon remained defiant, holding a rally at the Trocadéro on that afternoon intended as show of force. He then appeared on 20 heures on France 2 that evening, during which he refused to give up his candidacy, saying that “there is no alternative” and adding that “no one today can stop me from being a candidate”, insisting that “it is not the party that will decide” the fate of his candidacy. He said that the rally at the Trocadéro cemented his legitimacy, and that though he would have stepped down two months ago if indicted then, it was now too close to the presidential election and it would be unfair to voters of the right if he quit now. With a “political committee” planned for the following day, he proposed to assemble a modified campaign team, naming François Baroin, Éric Ciotti, and Luc Chatel, in an attempt to rally support around his candidacy. Immediately after Fillon’s appearance, Juppé announced on Twitter that he give a statement to the press in Bordeaux at 10:30 CET the day after.
Juppé officially announced his abstention from the race on 6 March, saying that “for me, it is too late”, and added that Fillon was at a “dead end” with his allegations of political assassination. The same day, the party’s “political committee” rallied behind Fillon, unanimously reaffirming its support for his candidacy. The same day, Le Canard enchaîné revealed that Fillon had failed to declare to the HATVP a €50,000 loan from Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, president of the Revue des deux Mondes. The UDI renewed its support for Fillon that evening, albeit only conditionally. On 13 March, Le Parisien revealed that investigators discovered suspicious wire transfers made by Marie and Charles Fillon to their father while employed by him, with Marie returning €33,000 of the €46,000 she was paid. Charles Fillon, in his hearing, referred to similar transfers to his parents’ joint account, worth about 30% of his salary.
On the morning of 14 March, Fillon was placed under formal investigation for misuse of public funds, embezzlement, and failure to comply with HATVP disclosure requirements. On 16 March the investigation into Fillon was extended to “aggravated fraud, forgery, and falsification of records”. In particular, the probe sought to determine whether documents seized during a search of the National Assembly in March were forged in order to corroborate the veracity of Penelope Fillon’s work as a parliamentary assistant. The investigation was also expanded into possible influence-peddling related to Fillon’s consulting firm 2F Conseil, which was previously hired by billionaire Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, owner of the Revue des deux Mondes, which employed Penelope Fillon. In 2013 de Lacharrière also provided a €50,000 loan to François Fillon, who failed to declare it as legally required. On L’Émission politique on 23 March, Fillon said that Bienvenue Place Beauvau, a book co-authored by Didier Hassoux of Le Canard enchaîné, suggested President Hollande ran a shadow cabinet to spread rumours about his opponents, a claim Hassoux subsequently denied. On 24 March, Marc Joulaud, Fillon’s former substitute, was formally placed under investigation for embezzlement of public funds. Penelope Fillon was placed under formal investigation for complicity in and concealment of embezzlement and misuse of public funds, as well as aggravated fraud, on 28 March.
On 10 April, Mediapart revealed that Penelope Fillon had in fact been paid by the National Assembly starting in 1982, not 1986, as earlier claimed by François Fillon. The edition of Le Canard enchaîné set for publication on 12 April revealed that François Fillon secured his then-fiancée a job three times the minimum wage in a Parisian ministry as early as 1980 while he was serving as deputy chief of staff to Minister of Defence Joël Le Theule; her contract ended in 1981, after 15 months.
After securing his party’s nomination in its presidential primary on 29 January 2017, Socialist Party (PS) dissident Benoît Hamon proposed forming a “governmental majority” with Jean-Luc Mélenchon of La France insoumise (FI) and Yannick Jadot of Europe Ecology – The Greens (EELV), seeking to “reconcile the left and the environmentalists”. Though Mélenchon had earlier demonstrated hostility to the possibility of an alliance, he expressed “satisfaction” with Hamon’s sentiments shortly after the primary. On 23 February, Jadot cemented an agreement to withdraw his candidacy in favor of Hamon, but on 26 February Hamon acknowledged that talks to secure an alliance with Mélenchon had failed, the pair only agreeing to a code of mutual respect. The talks failed in part because of the candidates’ differing positions on matters related to the European Union (EU), European Central Bank (ECB), EU treaties, European defense, and the obligation to maintain a budget deficit below 3% of GDP, among other divergences.
During a trip to Algeria on 15 February, Emmanuel Macron, candidate of En Marche!, remarked in an interview with local press that the French presence in the country had been a “crime against humanity” and “truly barbaric”, drawing the ire of numerous right-wing French politicians. François Fillon of the Republicans denounced Macron’s remarks as a “hatred of our history, this constant repentance is unworthy of a candidate for the presidency of the Republic”. Seeking to put aside the controversy in a meeting in Toulon on 18 February, he attempted to qualify his remarks, saying that he was “sorry” for having “hurt” and “offended” many as a result, but nevertheless continued to insist on acknowledging that France had a responsibility for its colonial past, not just in Algeria. According to an Ifop survey, a slim majority of French agreed with the sentiment that the country’s colonial history constituted a “crime against humanity” and that the French government ought to present an official apology for the abuses committed during the period, albeit strongly divided along generational lines, with younger voters tending to agree more strongly with Macron’s sentiments. Nevertheless, his remarks were followed by a temporary resurgence for Fillon in polls of voting intentions.
The various investigations of the fictitious employment of 29 parliamentary assistants to 23 National Front (FN) MEPs, implicating the entourage of Marine Le Pen, continued through 2017. These fictitious jobs would constitute €7.5 million in losses for European taxpayers from the period 2010 to 2016. The European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF) pursued the case, establishing that one of Le Pen’s parliamentary assistants, Catherine Griset, never secured a lease in Brussels during the five years she was employed and only rarely appeared in the European Parliament, while another, Thierry Légier, worked as a bodyguard at the same time. Though the European Parliament demanded that Le Pen return €298,392 by 31 January 2018, representing the salary “unduly paid” to Griset, she refused to do so, and the European Parliament began to reduce her salary to reclaim the money. On 20 February, investigators raided the FN’s headquarters in Nanterre for a second time in connection to the case; though Le Pen was summoned to appear before judges on 22 February in the Griset case, she refused to do so until after the June legislative elections, invoking the parliamentary immunity granted to her as a MEP. On 3 March, summoned to appear before judges to potentially be charged for breach of confidence, Le Pen was absent, again affirming that she would not respond to the case before the end of the campaign. On 6 March, Charles Hourcade, who served as parliamentary assistant to FN MEP Marie-Christine Boutonnet, faced charges of “concealment of breach of confidence” in a separate case; like Le Pen, who described the investigations into the FN’s fictitious employment of parliamentary assistants as a “political operation”, Boutonnet declined to appear before judges.
On 8 March, the satirical weekly Le Canard enchaîné revealed that the Inspection générale des finances (IGF) was concerned by potential favoritism during a trip Macron made to Las Vegas in 2016. While visiting the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Macron hosted a “French Tech Night” with French entrepreneurs which was entrusted to Havas by Business France, an agency of the French government, at a total cost of €381,759. No public tender was issued for the event, and Le Canard enchaîné noted that an inquiry requested by Michel Sapin indicated that Havas would likely be charged with favoritism as a result. On 13 March, the Paris prosecutor’s office opened a preliminary investigation into favoritism directed at Business France and Havas, but not Macron himself. Business France recognized that the organization of the event on short deadlines potentially led irregularities in the selection of Havas.
In late March, several candidates commented on the general strike in French Guiana, with Fillon proposing to assist the sugar cane industry, Macron supporting €1 billion in investment over five years, and Le Pen planning to increase the number of police officers and creating a ministerial position for overseas French territories.
During the early morning of 13 April, the ground floor of the building that houses Le Pen’s campaign headquarters was targeted by an arson attempt, and on 17 April the seats of the Socialist Party and the Republicans in Lille were burglarized and vandalized at night.
On April 20, three days before the first round, three police officers were shot and one killed in an attack on the Champs-Élysées, interrupting the 15 minutes pour convaincre (15 minutes to convince) on France 2, a program featuring successive interviews with the 11 candidates; in the following interviews, the remaining candidates paid tribute to the victims of the attack. In the wake of the attack, Le Pen and Fillon, suspended campaign activities the following day – the final day of campaigning – while Macron canceled two trips and Mélenchon insisted on maintaining his schedule to demonstrate that he would not allow violence to interrupt the democratic process; Hamon made similar remarks, proceeding with one campaign event the following day.
The official campaign began on 10 April and ended at midnight on 21 April. During this period, the Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel was to ensure equal speaking time for candidates in audiovisual media. On French public broadcasters, ten slots were allotted to the eleven candidates from 10 to 18 and 20 April, with nine slots on 19 April and eleven slots – one for each candidate – on 21 April, the final day of active campaigning.
Voting in the first round took place on Saturday 22 April from 08:00 to 19:00 (local time) in the French overseas departments and territories situated east of the International Date Line and west of metropolitan France (i.e. French Guiana, French Polynesia, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Martin, Saint Barthélemy and Saint Pierre and Miquelon), as well as at French diplomatic missions in the Americas. As at 17:00 (local time), the official turnout figures announced were lower in the overseas departments and territories (except for Saint Barthélemy) compared to the 2012 election. Although voting took place one day before metropolitan France, the election results and final turnout figures will be announced at the same time starting from 20:00 (Paris time) on Sunday 23 April, once voting has ended in metropolitan France. Voting in metropolitan France (as well as the French overseas departments and territories of Mayotte, New Caledonia, Réunion and Wallis and Futuna, and French diplomatic missions outside the Americas) takes place on Sunday 23 April from 08:00 to 19:00 or 20:00 (local time).
Estimations of the first-round result will be published by pollsters and their partners starting at 20:00 CEST on 23 April. These surveys will be conducted by Kantar Sofres-OnePoint for TF1 and RTL, Ipsos–Sopra Steria for France Télévisions and Radio France, Harris Interactive for M6, Ifop-Fiducial for CNews, Paris Match, and Sud Radio, Elabe for BFM TV, and OpinionWay (without a media client). Since the April 2016 passage of a law moving the closing times of certain polling stations from 18:00 CEST to 19:00 CEST to prevent leaks of results, survey institutes have raised concerns about the reliability of the first estimates, traditionally embargoed until 20:00 CEST. Furthermore, given the small margins separating the candidates in pre-election polls, if it is still unclear which two candidates qualified for the second round, institutes may delay releasing estimates. Ifop increased its number of representative polling stations checked from 150 to 300 and Ipsos from 200–250 to 500, with the two institutes insisting that the doubling of scanned offices will mean that the results will be clear within an hour, after which the embargo on the estimations is lifted. These estimations differ from exit polls in that they rely on actual results from hundreds of representative polling stations; none of the nine major survey institutes will conduct traditional exit polls.
A debate between François Fillon, Benoît Hamon, Marine Le Pen, Emmanuel Macron, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon took place on 20 March, hosted by TF1 and moderated by journalists Anne-Claire Coudray and Gilles Bouleau. It is the first time that a debate prior to the first round was held. The choice of date means that TF1 will not be required to provide candidates with equal speaking time, as Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel (CSA) regulations do not go into force until 9 April, the start of the official campaign. Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, who was not invited, denounced the debate as a “rape of democracy”, and the CSA urged TF1 to guarantee fair speaking time for other candidates.Dupont-Aignan filed an appeal that was rejected in part because he had already received airtime proportionate to his support. On 18 March, appearing on TF1, he quit mid-interview, furious at his exclusion from the network’s debate. The first debate began with an introductory question – “What kind of president do you want to be?” – followed by segments on three themes lasting about 50 minutes each: what type of society France should have, what type of economic model France should adopt, and the place of France in the world. The five candidates were given two minutes to answer each question, but opponents had the opportunity to interject 90 seconds in. The debate was three and a half hours long, and was watched by 9.8 million (47% of the audience share) on TF1, peaking at 11.5 million.
BFM TV and CNews hosted the second debate on 4 April at 20:40 CEST, moderated by Ruth Elkrief and Laurence Ferrari, inviting all candidates who qualified to appear on the first-round ballot. The start time, earlier than that of the TF1 debate, was chosen to avoid continuing well past midnight. Three themes were addressed: employment, the French social model, and the protection of the French. The final part of the debate concerned the exercise of power and moralization of public officials. Each of the 11 candidates invited had a minute and a half to answer each question, and other candidates were permitted to challenge their answers. This was the first ever debate including all first-round candidates; A total of 6.3 million people representing an audience share of 32% viewed the debate; BFM TV alone claimed 5.5 million viewers, equivalent to 28% audience share – an all-time record for the channel.
France 2 intended to host a debate with all candidates on 20 April, but on 28 March Mélenchon stated he was unhappy with its timing, planning not to attend, and would prefer that it be held before 17 April. Macron also expressed reservations about the proposed third debate, stating that he wanted only one debate with all 11 candidates before the first round, and preferably not just three days before the first round of voting. On 29 March, the CSA indicated that it was “concerned” that the date of the debate was too close to the first round, and recommended that candidates and broadcasters work to find an agreement as quickly as possible. France Télévisions decided to maintain the date of 20 April due to the lack of a consensus on an alternative the following day, but abandoned plans for a third debate on 5 April, instead proposing that individual candidates be interviewed by Léa Salamé and David Pujadas during that timeslot. The plan was finally confirmed on 18 April, with France 2 offering successive 15-minute interviews to the 11 candidates with the two hosts.
Though TF1 initially had plans to hold its own debate between the first and second round, it will instead jointly host one with France 2. Though BFM TV originally intended to host a debate between the two rounds, it sought to join France 2 and TF1 after the latter networks agreed to co-host a single debate between them. However, BFM TV’s advances were rebuffed; while all channels were welcome to broadcast the debate, CEO of France Télévisions Delphine Ernotte said, it would not accept such an arrangement with BFM TV, which would mean three journalists moderating the debate.
|2017 French presidential election debates|
|Date||Organizers||Moderators||P Present I Invitee NI Non-invitee A Absent invitee||Notes|
|Candidate viewed as “most convincing” in each debate|
|Debate||Poll source||Arthaud||Poutou||Mélenchon||Hamon||Macron||Lassalle||Fillon||Dupont-Aignan||Asselineau||Le Pen||Cheminade||Notes|
|* Harris and Ifop-Fiducial polls were conducted among those aware of the debate; Elabe and OpinionWay polls among debate viewers.|
|Sociology of the electorate|
|18–24 years old||3%||30%||10%||18%||9%||6%||21%||3%||71%|
|25–34 years old||1%||24%||8%||28%||8%||3%||24%||4%||72%|
|35–49 years old||2%||22%||7%||21%||11%||6%||29%||2%||74%|
|50–59 years old||3%||21%||6%||21%||13%||6%||27%||3%||76%|
|60–69 years old||1%||15%||5%||26%||27%||5%||19%||2%||84%|
|70 or older||0%||9%||3%||27%||45%||4%||10%||2%||88%|
|Less than baccalauréat||2%||17%||4%||19%||19%||6%||30%||3%||75%|
|At least bac +3||1%||20%||10%||30%||24%||4%||9%||2%||81%|
|Source: Ipsos France|
- First-round polling
- Second-round polling