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Four Questions to Understand the French Presidential Election

Published April 19, 2017 in News

By: Katie McNally | University Communications

After the surprise Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom and the upset election of President Donald Trump in the United States, people all over the world are closely watching the French presidential campaign for signs that another Western country is about to make a seismic shift.

French presidential elections include two rounds of voting: one to choose the top two contenders from the current field of 11 candidates, to be held April 23, and a runoff election on May 7 to elect the president from those two. At present, the four leading candidates are François Fillon of Les Républicains, Marine Le Pen of the National Front, Emmanuel Macron of En Marche! and Jean-Luc Mélenchon of France Unbowed. Le Pen, in particular, has garnered headlines around the world for her controversial stances and her attempts to bring her far-right party into the mainstream.

This is the first time in decades that the field is not dominated by France’s well-established conservative and socialist parties, and the country seems headed for a shift no matter who wins the final vote.

Four Questions to Understand the French Presidential Election

Before French citizens head to the polls this weekend, UVA Today asked visiting politics professor Vincent Michelot of Sciences Po Lyon what Americans should know about this vote. Michelot is spending the spring semester at the University of Virginia researching and teaching the comparative politics of French and American political parties.

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