Posted on April 17, 2017

How Marine Le Pen Could Win the First Round of the French Election but Lose the Presidency in the Second Round

Ashley Kirk, Telegraph, April 17, 2017

French Election Scenarios

The French election is shaping up to be an unpredictable race, with four candidates having a realistic chance of making the second-round run-off to become president.

While centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-Right leader Marine Le Pen are still the favourites to proceed to the second round of the presidential election, conservative François Fillon and communist Jean-Luc Mélenchon have seen late surges that have significantly improved their own chances.

Macron – centrist candidate and former protege of Francois Hollande – would most likely win the second-round run-off, no matter who his opponent is, according to polling conducted by Elabe to dissect all the different possible scenarios.

Meanwhile, far-right Front Nationale leader Le Pen would lose in all of the scenarios tested, also being beaten by Fillon and Mélenchon.

Candidates are pitted against each other twice in the French presidential election, with the first round of the vote taking place on April 23.

If no candidate gains half the vote, the top two candidates will then face off in a second run-off on May 7. This is a near certainty, as the sheer number of candidates on the ballot restricts the chance of a majority in the first round.

The strongest wins in any of the potential scenarios are for Macron, who would beat both Le Pen and Fillon with 65 per cent of the vote.

A second round race that had him face Mélenchon, however, would be closer – with Macron winning with 54 per cent.

Mélenchon and Fillon would both beat Le Pen in a second-round race, according to the poll – at 63 and 58 per cent respectively.

If the second round was between the scandal-mired conservative Fillon and communist Mélenchon, Elabe’s poll indicates that Mélenchon would win with 59 per cent of the vote.

Many polls have Marine Le Pen leading in the first round of voting, reflected in The Telegraph’s own poll tracker.

But she is unlikely to take the presidency, due to the fact that she is set to perform badly in the second round of voting, once the number of candidates is whittled down to two.

The answer as to why the winner of the first round could then lose the second lies in the politics of the candidates.

Le Pen is isolated in her politics, standing as the far-right, anti-establishment figure.

The closest major candidate to her is Fillon, a Thatcherite conservative who, as former Prime Minister, is hardly an anti-establishment politician. Then there’s Macron in the centre and Mélenchon and Hamon on the left.

Once the field is down to two in the second round, people have to chose between those that are left – which currently looks most likely to be Le Pen and Macron.

Macron, a centrist, should benefit from this fact. If he reaches the second round, he can attract a wider spectrum of voters from Le Pen, pulling in left-leaning voters from Hamon and Mélenchon as well as those leaning to the right that voted Fillon in the first round.

Le Pen, however, should have a smaller pool from which to draw her coalition – with Mélenchon, Hamon and Macron voters all unlikely to back her over a more moderate candidate.