Election in France: Records in French presidential elections

election in France
Records in French presidential elections

Emmanuel Macron was France’s youngest President. Photo: Christophe Ena/AP/dpa

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Macron holds a record: he is the youngest President of France. An overview of this and other records in the elections in the neighboring country.

French President Emmanuel Macron became France’s youngest president in 2017. If he wins the vote again on Sunday, he will do something that many of his predecessors failed to do: re-election. The French presidential election in records:

best result

By far the best result was achieved by Jacques Chirac in 2002. The politician of the civil right got 82.21 percent of the votes in the second ballot. Neither before nor after has a candidate come even close to this result. Chirac’s adversary in the runoff at the time was the right-wing extremist Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the Front National (today: Rassemblement National) and father of this year’s presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen.

Closest result

The closest result was achieved by European pioneer Valérie Giscard d’Estaing. In 1974, the conservative got only 50.81 percent of the votes in a duel with the socialist François Mitterand. Seven years later, Mitterand turned the tables and defeated the incumbent president with 51.76 percent. In both 1974 and 1981, the eventual loser had the edge in the first round.

Worst starting conditions

In 1995, Jacques Chirac went into the second round with the least backing. In the first ballot he received only 15.90 percent of the votes. In the end he still won and became President. However, his poor performance in the first round cannot have been due to the number of candidates in the first round. In 1995, nine candidates ran. The record was set in 2002 with 16 people for French voters to choose from.

voter turnout

Voter turnout fluctuated between years and rounds of voting. The high was in 1974 in the run-off election with 87.33 percent. In the first round, 84.75 percent took part in 1965, with the largest number of voters. There were lows in 1969 with a turnout of only 68.85 percent in the second round and in 2002 with a turnout of 71.6 percent in the first round.

First woman in the runoff

Socialist Ségolène Royal was the first woman in the runoff for the presidency. In 2007 she lost to the conservative Nicolas Sarkozy. Five years later, her party colleague and ex-partner François Hollande won the Élysée Palace in a duel with Sarkozy.

The reelection thing

Not a record, but by far not a matter of course would be a re-election of Macron. Since the founding of the fifth republic in 1958, there have only been three presidents with two terms in office. The first was Charles de Gaulle, but he was not directly elected until his second term in 1969. The socialist François Mitterand (in office from 1981 to 1995) and the conservative Jacques Chirac (1995 – 2007) also won two mandates. The conservatives Valérie Giscard d’Estaing and Nicolas Sarkozy each failed in their second attempt at the presidency.


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