The Atlantic

French Elections 2017: Who Will Win?

Abstention could affect the outcome.
Source: Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters

When Jean-Marie Le Pen, the far-right National Front (FN) candidate, came in second place in the first round of France’s presidential election in 2002, earning a coveted spot to the runoff against then President Jacques Chirac, he was met with outright rejection. His shocking advance, the first time a member of the far right had advanced that far in a French election since World War II, prompted French voters on the left and right to rally in Chirac’s favor, handing him an unprecedented 82 percent of votes in the runoff, and sending a defiant“non” to Le Pen and the vision for France his party represented.

Fifteen years later, and for the second time in FN history, a Le Pen has once again made it to the presidential runoff. But it’s no longer Jean-Marie on the ballot, nor has there been the same kind of uproar the party faced the last time it made it this close to the Élysée Palace. Like her father, Marine Le Pen isn’t expected to become president—polls project she’ll lose by a wide margin to Emmanuel Macron, her independent challenger. But unlike her father, and unlike 2002, Le Pen’s standing in the May 7 runoff was widely anticipated.

Dr. David Lees, a researcher

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