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And the Next President of France is… François Hollande

And the Next President of France is… François HollandeAs a French citizen and social scientist, I could not resist reviewing a very good article published by the excellent peer-reviewed journal, PS: Political Science & Politics. Two experts from the University of Montréal, Martial Foucault and Richard Nadeau, declared François Hollande winner of the 2012 French Presidential elections in their article “Forecasting the 2012 French Presidential Elections.”

It is projected that President Nicolas Sarkozy, right wing candidate, will lose to François Hollande, the socialist candidate, in the second round of the elections in May 2012. This result would very much look like Valéry Giscard d’Estaing losing at the end of his first mandate against the socialist candidate François Mitterand back in 1981. According to their model, Hollande would be winning over Sarkozy if they meet in the second round with 51.9% for Hollande and 48.1% for Sarkozy. The forecasting model is based on local and national data and includes economic (unemployment) and political (approval rating and previous results) variables. Here is their model: And the Next President of France is… François HollandeWith one month to go prior the first round of April 22nd, the presidential race is at full speed. Until today, Sarkozy has not been doing well with an approval rating below 40%. His campaign has been focusing on changing his image from the ‘candidate of the rich’ to ‘candidate of everybody.’ One of the strategies has led Sarkozy to apologize for some of his early missteps, such as the infamous nuit du Fouquet’s. However, the latest terrible incident of Toulouse has been a blessing for Sarkozy. Not in a sense that he has been capitalizing on the death of Mr. Merah, but on resetting the race. It appears that the race has taken a new path and Sarkozy has been trying to transform his image of a Security President to a President-Protector. François Hollande andAnd the Next President of France is… François Hollande Nicolas Sarkozy have been playing, rightfully, the card of national unity and inclusive Republic, as opposed to the violent xenophobic narratives of Ms. Le Pen. The policies advocated by Ms. Le Pen have nothing attractive to the undecided voters.

What is certain is that François Hollande has been very appealing to a majority of French voters with his populist narratives on social and economic policies. His calls for financial reforms, renegotiation of the eurozone’s new fiscal pact, increase of taxes on the wealthy and so on have been very attractive to a large segment of French voters. However, the Merah case is a very good reminder that anything could affect the outcomes of an election. This has been the case for Mr. McCain in 2008 during the American Presidential race and will certainly happen again in the future. The Foucault-Nadeau model is an excellent one, but it does not include the wildcard variable of an unforeseen event.


Photo 1: Hollande Socialist presidential candidate for 2012 François Hollande at an election rally. Photograph: Corbis

Photo 2: Euronews



Maxime H.A. Larivé

Maxime Larivé holds a Ph.D. in International Relations and European Politics from the University of Miami (USA). He is currently working at the EU Center of Excellence at the University of Miami as a Research Associate. His research focus on the questions of the European Union, foreign policy analysis, security studies, and European security and defense policy. Maxime has published several articles in the Journal of European Security, Perceptions, and European Union Miami Analysis as well as World Politics Review.