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french politics the electoral
Penetrating the various layers of mystery surrounding the French political system and presidential
elections can occasionally seem a challenging job for a Brit or even an American whose own
method is quite distinct from those of french. On an American having evolved inside a two-party
system with party conventions, primary elections plus an electoral college, the French multi-party
framework where seemingly anybody can toss their hat into the ring presents an exclusive
challenge. And also the differences between your British parliamentary system, although a
number of similarities appear in selecting the prime minister, are equally vast. With eyes
considered the upcoming presidential elections along with the political campaign that may be now
getting under way together with a whole lot time committed to the problem inside the French print
media and especially in the nightly news on television, it could be well to have a look only the way
the French electorate goes about selecting a new president.
France includes a parliamentary political system which has been refined and changed repeatedly
with the political upheaval in the French Revolution in 1789 and the five successive constitutions.
The Fifth Republic came into this world in 1958 together with the adoption of the new constitution
which fit more precisely together with the political agenda of Charles de Gaulle in comparison to
the first post-war constitution of 1946. Based on the 1958 constitution, France is really a
parliamentary democracy with both a president and a prime minister. The prime minister is
appointed from the president but must be confirmed from the deputies from the General
Assembly, which implies that he or she is obviously through the majority party inside the General
Assembly, an issue much like that in Great Britain. The president, however, is elected by direct
universal suffrage (a constitutional amendment in 1962 established the direct election in the
president). Presidential elections and legislative elections are never held on a single dates, as is
the case in the usa.
There are a multitude of political parties in France, which can contribute to the perceived
complexity of the electoral system from the eyes of citizens of other countries. Each party has the
legal right to present an applicant for president (much more about the different parties in
forthcoming issues), which means that to the first round of elections there can be approximately
40 different candidates around the ballot. This primary round of voting serves the same purpose
essentially as the primary elections in america, by using a significant difference: should one
candidate have more than 50% from the votes cast on the first round, they are declared the
winner plus a second round will never be necessary. Both the top vote getters within the first
round will then face one another in the second round, which is held fourteen days following the
first. From the seven elections since direct universal election of the president was instigated, it
offers never happened that a particular candidate won the election outright around the first round.
It has almost always been a candidate from your left facing an applicant through the right - one
notable exception was the whole surprise in 2002 when Jean-Marie Le Pen from your far-right
Front National finished second to Jacques Chirac and in front of the socialist candidate Lionel
The existing media frenzy in France involves your selection of the many candidates from your
respective parties. There exists considerable suspense on both the proper and the left as to who
can represent the major parties: Nicolas Sarkozy, the existing minister of your interior as well as
the first secretary of your reformed Gaullist party UMP is considered to be the strong front runner
for this party's nomination. His only opposition might be the current prime minister Dominique de
Villepin. Both guys have ambitions to get president, but Sarkozy enjoys a far greater advantage
within the public opinion polls. About the left, the suspense is even greater, especially throughout
the Socialist Party where Segolene Royal has caused not simply a significant stir within the party
but something near a revolution in French politics. She handily defeated the former prime minister
Jean-Pierre Raffarin for your presidency of the Poitou-Charen-tes Region and possesses since
rallied considerable support in the Socialist Party. Royal's declaration of her intention as a
candidate for that candidacy of your party was welcomed by her supporters, nevertheless it
obviously irked several of the stalwarts in the party who, rightly or wrongly, felt it was actually their
turn. The likes of Lionel Jospin, Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK), Jack Lang and Laurent Fabius,
who definitely have since been labeled "Les Elephants", were anything but subtle with their
opposition to and criticism of Segolene Royal. The outcome had also been something quite new
in French politics: an internal "primary" election to pick the presidential candidate.
Jospin and Lang withdrew from your race leaving Royal, Strauss-Kahn and Fabius in contention
for your nomination. Following several three televised debates, the "militants" in the Socialist
Party voted for their presidential candidate inside the first of two scheduled rounds on November
16th (an additional round, if needed, on November 23rd). Despite polls showing DSK closing
ranks on Royal, the final results happen to be characterized like a "tidal wave" victory for
Segolene Royal. With 60.62% from the votes cast, she won the nomination in the first round. DSK
received 20.83% and Fabius 18.54%. With Segolene Royal's overwhelming win of the party's
nomination, she will not, however, be the first woman candidate to the presidency, but, based on
the polls, she is the 1st woman with a strong possibility of actually becoming the president of
France and the most likely person of either sex to be able to defeat Nicolas Sarkozy, the likely
candidate from the right.