French elections: Hollande ahead of Sarkozy, record vote for far-right


Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande has emerged as the victor in the first round of the French presidential elections on May 22, with more than 28% of the votes, ahead of President Nicolas Sarkozy, who scored just over 27%. This is the first time in French election history that an opposing candidate has beaten the incumbent at this stage.

Attention is focused on Marine Le Pen’s record score for the extreme right-wing party, the ‘Front National’ which secured almost 18% of votes. Le Pen beat the 16.86% that had enabled her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, to access the second round of presidential polls in 2002.

Analysts say her success reflects the effectiveness of the current anti-immigrant rhetoric in France.

French voters will once more be casting their ballots on Sunday 6 May in order to decide between Hollande and Sarkozy. Though the results are too close to call a final winner ahead of this date, France’s future president will have an impact on France and also the policies of the wider European Union.

To join the online discussion on the anti-immigration vote and on the French Presidential elections, see the online forum Debating Europe: 
“Should politicians court the anti-immigration vote?” and “How will the French Presidential election affect Europe?”