The French Presidential Election Is Underway

Tyler Durden's picture

Update: according to Belgian Le Soir, first exit polls show that Hollande is not surprisingly ahead, with 27% of the vote, 25.5% for Sarkozy, 16% for Marine Le Pen, and 13% for Jean-Luc Melenchon. More or less just as expected, and setting the stage for the runoff round which will be Hollande's to lose. French speakers demanding a minute by minute liveblog, can find a great one over at Le Figaro, and an English-one can be found at

And from Reuters:

Note to media: this story should not be published in France or in French before 8 p.m Paris time (1800 GMT), in compliance with French law.


Socialist challenger Francois Hollande and incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy are set to contest a French presidential run-off in two weeks, with the former topping the first-round vote on Sunday, Belgian broadcaster RTBF said.


RTBF quoted first projections based on counted votes from hundreds of polling stations, which by law cannot be published in France until the last polling stations close at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT), as showing Sarkozy and Hollande would go through to the second round on May 6.


Hollande was ahead on the first ballot with 27 percent of the vote, with Sarkozy on 25 percent. RTBF said extreme-right leader Marine Le Pen came in third with 20 percent.

As of 8 am CET, polls are open in the first round of the French presidential elections where voters are expected to trim the playing field of ten to just two candidates, incumbent Nicholas Sarkozy and his socialist challenger Francois Hollande, who will then face off in a May 6 runoff, where as of now Hollande is expected to have a comfortable lead and take over the presidency as the disgruntled French take their revenge for an economy that is contracting, an unemployment rate that keeps rising (see enclosed) despite promises to the contrary, and as their to "express a distaste for a president who has come to be seen as flashy following his highly publicized marriage to supermodel Carla Bruni early in his term, occasional rude outbursts in public and his chumminess with rich executives.....France is struggling with feeble economic growth, a gaping trade deficit, 10 percent unemployment and strained public finances that prompted ratings agency Standard & Poor's to cut the country's triple-A credit rating in January." In a major shift for the country, Hollande would become France's first left-wing president since Francois Mitterand, who beat incumbent Valery Giscard-d'Estaing in 1981. As Reuters reports, "Hollande, 57, promises less drastic spending cuts than Sarkozy and wants higher taxes on the wealthy to fund state-aided job creation, in particular a 75 percent upper tax rate on income above 1 million euros ($1.32 million)." The Buffett Rule may have failed in the US but La Loi de Buffett is alive and well in soon to be uber-socialist France. Yet it is not so much Hollande's domestic policies, as his international ones, especially vis-a-vis the European Fiscal Treaty, Germany, and most importantly the ECB, that roiled markets last week, causing French CDS to spike to the widest since January. In other news, goodbye Merkozy, hello Horkel as the power center shifts yet again to a new source of uncertainty and potential contagion.

From Reuters:

On Friday, the risk premium investors charge to hold French debt over safe-haven German bonds rose to nearly 1.50 percent, betraying fears that Hollande's economic program could be pulled to the left if Melenchon's popularity leads to a strong bloc of seats for the far left after parliamentary elections in June.

And the WSJ:

French Socialist presidential candidate François Hollande on Friday pressed the European Central Bank to cut interest rates and to lend directly to euro-zone member countries to bolster economic activity, in the latest escalation of campaign rhetoric targeting the institution.


On the final day of the election campaign before Sunday's first-round vote, Mr. Hollande detailed how the ECB could play a bigger role in boosting growth. Under French law there is no electioneering the day before the vote.


"If we think cutting interest rates is the way economic growth can be sustained, I'm in favor," Mr. Hollande said in a radio interview. "There's a second way: lending money to the states instead of lending it to banks."


The ECB declined to comment, but Mr. Hollande's comments are unlikely to gain traction within the Frankfurt-based institution.


Lending directly to states would mean the central bank is financing governments, which is strictly prohibited by current European Union regulations. ECB Executive Board member Peter Praet, who is also the chief economist of the central bank, stressed in a speech in Berlin on Thursday that EU legislation clearly rules out the ECB's monetization or bailout of governments.


In addition to going against the ECB's prime mandate of maintaining price stability, any ECB direct lending to states also would put the bank's independence into question, ECB executives have repeatedly warned.

Needless to say, the ECB already seen as a puppet of various core European political interests, will have none of this and made it very clear that no lending to governments directly will take place (for the simple reason that the weakest link in the European ponzi is to keep banks funded under the pretext of them performing patriotic duties such as funding their own governments indirectly, which in turn merely becomes yet another sovereign contingent liability, as explained here before extensively - as such banks can not be disintermediated from the ECB's funding chain!). This in turn explains why not only Europe's tenuous monetary agreement may be about to fray, but also the Fiscal Union (which Ireland is set to vote against in a public referendum) may soon follow suit.

Yet is a Hollande victory guaranteed in the runoff? DB's Gilles Moec explains what the key variables will be if Sarkozy wants to not hand over power to his socialist competitor (short of giving Diebold the vote counting contract of course):

How could Sarkozy fill the gap in two weeks? We think that three elements could help the incumbent between the two rounds. However, we continue to think that the dynamics in favour of Hollande are unlikely to be reverted.


First, the TV duel between the two rounds is a central ritual in French politics. Unlike in the US or the UK, the candidates face each other with minimal intervention from the moderator and it is normally a dramatic moment where personal elements, rather than substance, dominate. Sarkozy has more experience than Hollande in this type of configuration. However, given the magnitude of Hollande’s advance in voting intentions, it would take a “victory by knock-out”, with a major blunder from the socialist candidate to really boost Sarkozy’s chances.


Second, how the centrist candidate Bayrou positions himself in the second round could play a role. The polls currently put him at around 10%. In 2007, when he secured in the first round a record 18.7% of the votes for a “third way” candidate, he refused to endorse any of the two contenders. He campaigned this time less on the left and has been openly critical of Hollande’s economic program. Some of Sarkozy’s aides publicly mentioned the possibility that he could be made Prime Minister if their candidate is re-elected. Still, we would find it surprising that he would publicly endorse Sarkozy, since it would deeply divide his followers. His electorate is very composite, often liberal in the Anglo-saxon definition of the terms on social issues while fiscally conservative and probably more open than the socialists to structural reforms. Some of his supporters have already publicly endorsed Hollande. In any case, we do not think that he commands real control over his electorate.


Third, an explicit electoral pact between Melanchon and Hollande could push the moderate electorate towards Sarkozy. However, we do not think that Hollande would make this tactical mistake. He has repeated several times in the campaign that he would not negotiate between the two rounds, and that if non-socialists were to join him in a presidential majority ( and possibly secure cabinet positions), it would be on the basis of his own program. There again the 1981 campaign is being replicated. Then, the communist party’s maximalism – and Mitterrand’s refusal to clarify the relationship between the two rounds – allowed the socialist party to appear moderate by contrast, even if its own platform at the time was very far left. We think that Hollande’s calculation is that Melanchon’s electorate will massively vote for him in the second round in any case, out of rejection for the incumbent.

Although realistically, for any of this to happen in the next two weeks, seems like a stretch. Ironically it will not be the outcome of the direct runoff that will likely shape monetary and fiscal policy, but whether the socialist party ends up needing the support of the far left after the renewal of the lower hour of parliament. As a reminder:

Hollande is a whisker ahead for the first round, with an average 28 percent support in polls to Sarkozy's 27 percent. Both are far ahead of far-right leader Marine Le Pen, in third place at 16 percent, who wants to curb immigration and take France out of the euro zone.


Melenchon, whose crowd-pulling charisma and clench-fisted vow to end the power of markets over national economies have made him a star of the election race, ranks fourth with 14 percent, while centrist Francois Bayrou is fifth at 10 percent.


"We have to get rid of Sarkozy," said Marc Boitel, a trombone player taking part in a street protest ahead of Sunday's vote. "People just want jobs."


Boitel plans to vote for tub-thumbing radical leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon, who wants an anti-capitalist revolution, and then Hollande in round two, reflecting a voter shift that is unsettling some financial analysts as feeble growth threatens deficit targets in Europe's No. 2 economy.

And from DB:

Could Hollande be pushed towards a more radical stance on European issues by his political allies? The left already controls the upper house of parliament. The lower house will be entirely renewed just after the presidential elections (votes completing on 7 June). A risk is that the socialist party alone fails to secure an absolute majority and depends on the support of the radical left, which could push to try to transform what we hold for pure campaign rhetoric (for instance changing the ECB’s mandate) in actual legislation. Furthermore, to ratify any “completed” fiscal compact Hollande would need to explicitly incorporate the European fiscal rules in the French legal framework. Initially, the draft European treaty called for a mandatory inscription in the Constitution, which would be very sensitive in France since Sarkozy failed to secure such a constitutional reform last year, on the fiscal golden rule, because of the socialist party’s opposition. This has been watered down – initially to help, in  vain, the Irish to avoid a referendum – so that the legal change can be done at the constitutional level “or equivalent”. We think that Hollande would use an “organic law” to incorporate the changes, drawing on his campaign pledge to inscribe his objective to eliminate the deficit by 2017 in an organic law (which in practice sets the procedure for the discussion of every annual budget bill).

In a Europe rapidly disenchanted with the failure of the NWO ushered globalization paradigm, all of the above has a high probability of happening, and with a scorching political summer ahead, with elections in Greece, Germany, and now the Netherlands following yesterday's surprising Wilders budget opposition fiasco, not to mention the Ireland referendum, the market is finally starting to pay attention.

In terms of what will be impacted the most in the aftermath of a probable Hollande victory, we refresh readers on the Sarkozy "victory matrix:"

Finally, for one of the best summaries to date, we urge a reread of George Magnus' of UBS great summary from back in February: "Enter Francois Hollande, Stage Left" because then even the chimera of austerity will now be gone, providing the ECB little if any political cover for its monetization. The irony is that the market will now be far more focused on the French election than any meaningless firewall promises out of the IMF becase as Magnus said:

"Hollande wins, the difficult progress towards European fiscal integration, including the building of firewalls, could become mired in new arguments, or stall. This would have important consequences for Europe, and not least for the newly pro-active ECB, which would have reason to doubt that politicians were fulfilling their pledge to create permanent fiscal discipline."

Although speaking of the IMF, in a parallel universe it would be DSK that would be the frontrunning right about now. Just think of the presidential parties that would have ensued in that universe.

Below is a summary of all the candidates' policies courtesy of Al Jazeera:

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spiral_eyes's picture

This as opposed to the French Presidential Erection, which has occurred every time Sarkozy and Merkel have met to "hammer out" the Eurozone crisis.

dannyboy's picture

This election, like most other countries will be redundant as both sides are played by the same people. However this guy sounds pretty good:

Dick Darlington's picture

And the reporter looks pretty good. ;-)

dannyboy's picture

It's just a shame my jack russel could compete with her in intelligence. However she does have a pretty good rack.

Oh regional Indian's picture

I would not be surprised if someone has their hands on the "Saif Gaddafi" papers. The biggest shock of the Libyan rout was that they did not expose the mini-napolean for what he is, two faced AND short as shit!

But it's never over till it's over so we'll see.

Though it does seem that the global thrust is towards socialist governments... not healthy at all.



Colombian Gringo's picture

Is there any real difference between socialist and fascist governments? They are both controlled by the same cabal, end up taxing the crap out of all of us and rob us of our freedoms under the phony lie of state security and counterterrorism. 

Oh regional Indian's picture

Absolutely NONE CG. Precisely. Socialist is the pre-cursor to fascist.

Too many examples come to mind.


GeneMarchbanks's picture

While I agree that many of these terms lack clear cut meaning, if you can spot the differences between Hungary and Yugoslavia and Mussolini's Italy then you are closer to understanding the subtlety of social movements. They are different, grab a couple of books instead of asking for a GUT in a general sound bite or forum paragraph.

Oh regional Indian's picture

That was then Gene. I think we live in a time where the "good part" seems to have left pretty much everything. 

Social movements and Socialist governments are two entirely different kettle of fish, wouldn't you say?


GeneMarchbanks's picture

Yes and no. On a sovereign level, speaking here from a historical European standpoint, social movements have been a reaction to too much exploitation stemming from industrial capitalism. These have been spontaneous in nature unlike social engineering that has come post WWII from the intelli agencies and BWIs which specialize in crowd control. We need some categorical separation.

France isn't fascist if they elect Hollande, saying so would be absurd IMHO.

Spastica Rex's picture

You're not playing the game right. Everything bad is simulatneously fascist+socialist+anti-capitalist+gay. Trying to differentiate between all these evils is too taxing on the grey matter of many of those here at ZH. It's hardly coincidental that history isn't really taught anymore in American public schools. If some group does something that Ron Paul wouldn't like, you can use any or all of the terms I outlined above to describe them. Get with the program.

whstlblwr's picture

This is how it's done. Infiltrate.

"I am now a Precinct Chairman of the Republican Party
Submitted by 4librty on Sun, 04/22/2012 - 11:55

* Daily Paul Liberty Forum

Won fair and square due to no one else stood up for it, and ill also make sure to make my opinion about personal liberty and constitutionally limited govt be known outside of my regular duties as chairman (and its heavy Santorum country yowzers).

I dont want to say what state or district i'm from, but I thought I would share about another tiny bit of ground gained.

another misc. GoP Precinct Chairman

falak pema's picture

National socialism and international dictatorship of proletariat, both historical truths which were cut from same blanket of an elitist cabal instrumentalising people's faith in an ideal that became a flash in the pan, when manipulated cleverly by the sons of Machiavelli. Just like the Catholic church that ran the world for a thousand years saying "God wills it" and ONLY WE, the pure and chosen of the Curia, know why and how! 

But civilization has always been nourished on myths, whereas the heretics of each age have nourished themselves on FACTS which point in the opposite direction.

Heretics, as precursors of social change,  are a dangerous breed for the Power construct and a blessing for the knowledge/truth construct; always. Unless the heretic becomes the NEW GOD. That is precisely what happened when Constantine, THE SOCIALIST,  made an unknown jewish heretic ICON of his ideology construct for his new religion of Empire. 

Steve Job's creation was a heretic brand when Apple was tiny and is GOD now that it is made in China and is the new religion of the global market. Our Gods change but our Oligarchical breed behind the curtain stays the same. 

Social change = heretic thinking. Socialist = King playing at flash in the pan social change! 



GeneMarchbanks's picture

Entirely succinct except for the asinine attempt at portraying of Jobs as a heretic. Poor choice for a side-by-side view since one is post-crowd control within complete ochlocracy and the other an actual example of the age old 'meek inheriting the Earth'

Oh regional Indian's picture

Gene, I never said Hollande's being elected = France gone Fascist.

It's a step in the right direction is all. The totalitarian tip-toe.

And Falak's excellent prose above reminded me of this:

The person who takes the banal and ordinary and illuminates it in a new way can terrify. We do not want our ideas changed. We feel threatened by such demands. "I already know the important things!" we say. Then Changer comes and throws our old ideas away.

  • The Zensufi Master


GeneMarchbanks's picture

That wasn't meant for you ORI. I was simply tying 2 and 2 together. If there is no difference between the two + Hollande the Socialist wins = France is Fascist.

Too many here just validate already prearranged conclusions, agreed.

Nukular Freedum's picture

Fascism is not socialism except in the very broadest of definitions. More specifically it occurs at that point where Conservatives (imperialists) and Socialists (statists) converge. But yes there are many shades and ambiguities.
What is the anti-type to these forces: Liberalism (in the Libertarian sense of the word).

The Big Ching-aso's picture



I wonder how many stupid bawling Frenchies there'll be when the Germans march thru Paris again.

Uncle Remus's picture

Why? In historical context, "Jobs as a heretic" rings true. For some, it always will.

DanDaley's picture

The best political spectrum graphic for understanding how these people (statists) are all moving in the same direction:






WestVillageIdiot's picture

I finally realize that all of these titles are just silly.  It took a long time.  But I no longer believe that the semantics of "fascist", "socialist", "communist", etc. have any point.  The only thing that matters is a person's belief in the size of government.  All of the "-isms" that believe in large government are bound to be hostile, destructive and soul wrenching. 

Large government is not the answer and whether you are George Bush, Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, Joseph Stalin or Adolf Hitler, if you believe that government should have the central role in the state then you are pretty much one in the same. 

The goal of government is to make you a slave, no matter which silly sounding name it might hide behind. 

Uncle Remus's picture

Veterans Exempt Flag, War of 1812

AnAnonymous's picture

But I no longer believe that the semantics of "fascist", "socialist", "communist", etc. have any point.


That is because you left aside 'Americanism', the mattering one.

akak's picture

That is because the inanities and insanities of Chinese Citizenism flow from you, the nattering one.

Vendetta's picture

looked good but was a twit.  That is with an "I" btw.

Colombian Gringo's picture

It is not her intelligence that makes her yummy :-)

dufferin's picture

It's not done yet, no one is sure about a Sarkozy/Hollande second round.

It could be different. It did happen in 2002.


misterc's picture

Made in Germany

Merde in France

Warning! Made in England

lakecity55's picture

Why do the English like warm beer?

It comes from Lucas Refrigerators.

Lucas (TM). The Prince of Darkness.

Vegetius's picture

With Sarkozy in deep trouble with the Sans Culottes the whole Euro mess looks like getting more interesting. Merkel will have to face certain reality’s, one is - “Should I stay or should I go now?”  

The place where this crisis will unfold in a Führerbunker way is Brussels with the unelected and unelectable foaming at the mouth talking about traitors and the rabble. These problems are obvious to most observers but to those whose pay, pensions and power depend on Government or EU largesse there will be no retreat as the Euro Götterdämmerung approaches.

WestVillageIdiot's picture

This just keeps getting funnier.  We now have so many forces lined up against the Euro but everything continues to seem as calm as a bunch of Hindu cows in Bangalore.  The Spanish situation appears to be deteriorating by the minute.  The French are about to vote for "hope and change".  The Irish might just vote themselves out of the EU altogether.  That should all just work out fine.  Just keep jawboning.  Maybe they can get Michelle Bonehead Cabrera to flash her jugs and confuse everybody.

It is clear that this French alternative is just more snake oil sales.  He speaks of sticking it to the rich.  He will create jobs for the French. What a joke.  If this guy gets his wish say goodbye to the Frency economy.  Bring back the Franc.  Bring on the demographic nightmare of Europe.  Bring on poverty.  How depressing it is to consider the full depth of this stupidity. 

We haven't even mentioned the Germans yet.  How long will they continue to bend over for Brussels?

I just love that Hollande wants to have the ECB "give" money directly to over spending countries.  Doesn't this guy realize that a money laundering scheme requires the launderer?  How dare he even hint that the banks shouldn't get their cut as they run massive amounts of Tide and Woolex over the cloth of Europe.  He better stay away from open windows and hot tubs.  I hope he doesn't have a brother named Fredo. 

lakecity55's picture

I see DC

I see France

Hollande is inside Barry's underpants.

The Alarmist's picture

You clearly did not get the memo. Greece is saved, Europe is secure.

Get with the program!

machineh's picture

Whoa, ten choices -- and people actually get to VOTE on them???

For their whole lives, Americanos have been taught that TWO choices is all you ever need, and all you'll ever get.

That's why government subsidizes Depublicrat primaries: to produce interchangeable candidates that will keep the state growing no matter what!

francis_sawyer's picture

Just remember to vote early & vote often...

WestVillageIdiot's picture

10 choices but 8 are there only for show.  Don't be fooled by Potemkin's wonderful palace.  Is that the sun I see coming out?

mr_sandman's picture

And yet, of their ten choices, a Socialist is going to get 40% of the vote, and an actual Communist and an actual Fascist are going to get over 20% of the vote.


Progress indeed.  How's that for STICKING IT TO THE STATE, MAN!!!

Dick Darlington's picture

Citi's Gilles Moec explains...

I think he works for Douche Bank.

WestVillageIdiot's picture

What's the difference?  Oh, yeah, from what I've seen Deutsche Bank has guards dressed as paramilitary walking the sidewalks outside their Manhattan office.  Disgusting.

Poor Grogman's picture

The French make shitty cars, let them burn.


All of them

GMadScientist's picture

The French, the cars, or both?

Oh regional Indian's picture

Poor grogman has probably never driven a Peugeot 309 16V. 

The French make the best cars with spirit.