Minutes ago, the “estimated” voting results in the first round of the French presidential election were released. Emmanuel Macron (“neither left nor right”) leads with 23 percent, followed by ultra-nationalist Marine Le Pen with 21. Conservative Francois Fillon and Communist Jean-Luc Mélenchon were both at 19.5. Hapless Socialist Benoit Hamon had around 7 percent of the vote.
Either the French broadcast that presented these results didn’t say what, exactly, “estimated” vote means or else my French wasn’t good enough to pick up the explanation. However, at Macron headquarters folks were celebrating as if the result is conclusive (at least for him).
A couple of quick thoughts, to which I will add later. First, the polls were pretty much spot on.
Second, Le Pen’s showing seems unimpressive. It think it foreshadows her defeat.
Early on, it was thought that Le Pen would finish first in the preliminary round. More recently, polls showed she might well finish second, but some thought the latest terrorist attack would give her a boost. It didn’t.
I don’t see how Le Pen gets from 21 percent in the first round to 50 percent (plus one) in the run-off. But I have enough trouble forecasting American presidential races without dabbling in French ones.
UPDATE: Fillon, who appears to have edged out the Communist for third place, has conceded and urged his supporters to vote for Macron. So has the defeated Socialist. The Communist is still holding out hope for a second place finish.
It’s likely that Macron will be France’s next president. However, his ability to govern will depend to a significant degree on the parliamentary elections to be held in June.
James Gillespie, a Paris lawyer and close observer of the French political scene, observes:
En Marche, the party founded by Macron to fight this election (and thereby escape the doomed Socialist Party) has only a weak, recently cobbled-together structure, and it will be fascinating to see whether the new organization can even find candidates to run in all districts. If not, or if those candidates who are nominated don’t do well because of lack of support, Macron could well find himself the titular president, beholden to left- or right-wing majorities which owe him nothing.