Monday, May 15, 2017

10 things you (probably) don't know about French elections

France elected a new president last week, and yesterday Emmanuel Macron officially replaced François Hollande. Fingers crossed that he is better liked/does a better job than Hollande. He left office with an approval rating of 4%!!!!! Ouch. That makes 2008 George Bush look incredibly beloved.

It was interesting being in another country for a big election for the first time. I couldn't help comparing it to how American elections work. Here are 10 ways that French elections are different from the ones back home!

1. France doesn't elect their president in one election, but two! All candidates can participate in the 'premier tour,' and then the top two with the most votes advance to the 'second tour' a few weeks later. 

The 11 candidates of the premier tour
2. To go along with that... there are more than two significant political parties in France. Which explains the two elections- if there weren't more than two candidates, there wouldn't be any need for two elections.

3. Typically in France, the 2 biggest parties are the Socialists and the Républicans (formally called UMP). In this election, however, neither candidate who advanced to the second tour were from those parties! Macron formed his own centrist party, called En Marche! Yes, exclamation mark included in the name of the party. LePen was from the far right Front National.

Someone should have coached LePen on her creepy smile
4. The French vote on Sundays, not Tuesdays. I guess this makes it easier for working people to vote. 

5. Like in the U.S., you need to vote where you're registered. Unlike in the U.S., you can give someone the right to vote in person on your behalf. Since David wasn't home in Gap on either of the election days, his mom voted for him. It's called procuration

6. There is nothing like the electoral college. It is simply a popular vote.

7. Presidential candidates don't have running mates. Presidents appoint a prime minister after they are elected, but the position is not the same as a vice president.

8. The French press don't seem to report as much on the personal/family lives of candidates. It makes sense considering the French are generally more private. Macron met his wife when he was 15 AND SHE WAS HIS HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER. I've seen that interesting little fact mentioned wayyyyy more on American news than French news.

9. French presidents are elected for 5 year terms. They are allowed to run for a second term. Hollande did not, because you know... 4% approval rating.

10. The legislative elections are not held on the same day as the presidential election. They are held a month later, in case voters want to base their vote for that on who became president.

My favorite part about the French elections was watching the live coverage. It wasn't like the American elections where results trickle slowly and you have to stay up half the night to see who won. They announced the official results at 8 p.m- with a countdown! It felt like a reality show. I loved it. The winner's face showed up on the screen when they got to 0. I felt like I was watching America's Next Top Model.

Then they cut to Macron's victory party at the Louvre. We technically could have gone because we were in the area, but instead we put on our pajamas and watched it on TV in the hotel.

Good luck to France with their new president. I'm no expert on French politics, so all I can say is that I hope it works out for you guys!

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