The 2017 presidential election. Somewhat more interesting to observe than the 2016 US presidential election.  In that one there was only an early single twist from where it began and a quarter-turn at the end.  The early shape had voters (not) looking forward to another Clinton v. Bush general election.

Then along came Mr. Trump who quickly leapfrogged over Mr. Bush and never gave up his lead from his baseline of 25% as he picked up a share of the support for the other candidates as they dropped by the wayside and then out.

It was easier for Mrs. Clinton than for Mr. Bush.  In 2016, a majority of Democrats preferred to stick with the old guard.  Perhaps a majority of the general electorate as well, except for but in a few key pockets.  So, that was the quarter-turn at the end.  After a seemingly interminable eighteen-month election cycle.

Approximately nine months ago, French voters were (not) looking forward to a rematch of their 2012 presidential election: Hollande v. Sarkozy.  With the same major “also rans” in the first round.  One modification.  The French Republican political party had been reconstituted from UMP in 2012 to LR.  I haven’t the vaguest idea what such a political party name rebranding means to French voters, but UMP had itself been a rebranding.

2012 general election – 1st round – (US-centric descriptors):
28.6% – PS/PRG – Hollande – (socialist)
27.2% – UMP – Sarkozy – (republican)
17.9% – FN – Le Pen – (vichy)
11.1% – FG – Mélenchon – (far left)
9.1% – MoDem – Bayrou- (center ???)
6.1% – Greens and others

Hollande 51.6%
Sarkozy 48.4%

A month before the first round, an Ipsos poll had it at:
28% Hollande
27.5% Sarkozy
16% LePen
13% Mélenchon
11.5% Bayrou
4% other

So, only minor jockeying among voters in the last few weeks.

Back to 2017.  In August, a young member of Hollande’s government, Macron, resigned and started his own party (EM) and was given no chance.  With his public approval numbers approaching zero, Hollande chose not to run for re-election.  Sarkozy’s numbers within his party also began to drop.  Only the LR and PS/PRG nominees had yet to be chosen, but there were leading candidates in both.  The shape (order) of the general election began to look like this:

FN – LePen
LR – Juppé  (Sarkozy possible)
EM – Macron
FG – Mélenchon
PS/PRG – Valls
MoDem – Bayrou

Then a darkish horse emerged in the LR primary, Fillon, and Juppe finished second with Sarkozy in third place.  Fillon was commanding, 66.5%, in the run-off against Juppé.  Social “conservatism” won.

The PS/PRG primary elections were held two months later.  Another upset as the candidate polling in third place, Hamon, won both the first and second rounds.  Hamon is from the left wing of the Socialist party.

One more change.  MoDem, Bayrou, is still on the fence as whether or not to contest this election.  The polling that has included MoDem puts them at about 5% in sixth place.

At of this point, the general election first round looks like this:
25% – FN – LePen
22% – LR – Fillon
21% – EM – Macron
15% – PS/PRG – Hamon
10% – FG – Mélenchon
3.5% -DLF – Dupont-Aignan (allied with UK IP – Farage in last election)

As Homan only secured the nomination on Sunday, the polling may be out of date. Another new wrinkle that’s only four days old is Penelopegate.  Fillon’s wife has been earning a public salary (total €600,000) for what appears to have been a fake job.  Now there’s more: François Fillon faces fresh claims over paying wife and children .

On Tuesday, French anti-corruption police took the unusual step of searching offices in the Assemblée National after requesting authorisation from the speaker of the lower house.

Investigators reportedly seized documents from the archives and from Fillon’s parliamentary office. France Inter radio suggested detectives were looking for Mrs Fillon’s employment contracts.

The raids came after police officers questioned the couple separately for five hours on Monday afternoon as part of a preliminary inquiry into alleged fraud and the misappropriation of public funds.

Is this anything social “conservatives” mind when their guy does it?  If French social “conservatives” do, who do they flock to?  Or if they mind enough, whatever will Fillon and the LR do?

Le Pen has her own financial improprieties:

…the EU ordered her to refund €300,000 paid to European parliament aides – one of them her chief bodyguard – who, it is alleged, were employed on Front National party business. Le Pen has denied wrongdoing, but European officials have threatened to cut her monthly MEP’s salary by half and halt other allowances if she does not pay back the money. The Paris prosecutors office opened a fraud investigation at the European parliament’s request in December.

A couple of other notes.  Younger and for lack of a better description, more stylish voters have put Macron in this race.  Not clear if they understand the import of this:

He left [as an Inspector of Finances in the French Ministry of Economics in 2008]  to work as an investment banker at Rothschild & Cie Banque. While at Rothschild, he closed a high-profile deal between Nestlé and Pfizer, which made him a millionaire.

IOW, Macron is “business friendly.”

What appears to have helped Hamon were the debates, and he became stronger in the second and third ones.  He won the first round election with 36% and the run-off with 58.7%.  And apparently, some Socialist Party MPs are really pissed. (Did they overlook the polls showing Valls in single digits for the general election?)  The hill Hamon has to climb just got steeper.

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