Now that the pundits’ predictions are confirmed that Hollande and Sarkozy will go through to the second round (with 27.5% and 26.6% respectively) much discussion centres on the 19% polled by the French National Front, led by Marine Le Pen, taking her into third place.
Whether or not her voters will support Hollande or Sarkozy in the final run off on 6th May is obviously a vital point. Especially as Sarkozy will simultaneously be wooing them and the 8.9% of centrists who voted for Bayou.
Overall, commentators are pointing out that the far left have done less well than expected and the far right rather better than predicted.
All the candidates are giving reaction speeches this evening.
Sarkozy gave a speech calling for his suporters to turn out en masse on 6th May.
Sarkozy said that he understood the sufferings of the French people, and said that the next vote would represent the French people’s choice of who would protect them over the next five years. He offered to hold three debates before the next vote, on the economy, French society and international affairs.
Hollande gave a speech refering to his rival as “the outgoing candidate” and saying that voters had punished Sarkozy. He said that the protest vote to the right was a result of Sarkozy’s policies. He pledged growth, attacked the elite who surrounded Sarkozy and said that Jean-Luc Melenchon had been a very strong candidate.
Melenchon, who polled 11%, has already advised his supporters to support Hollande as has Eva Joly (Green) 2%.
Marine Le Pen has said that her party is the “only opposition” left in France but also ruled out joining any non-NF government. She said that the results “were only the beginning”.
One of the biggest reactions has been played out over the web as a result of the French government enforcing a 1977 law which means that exit polls may not be published in France before the polling stations have closed.
This meant that Swiss and Belgian television announced exit poll results at 5pm BST but nothing was broadcast in France until 7pm BST. In the intervening 2 hours, bloggers and tweeters enjoyed themselves reporting results about the “price of Dutch pancakes compared with Hungarian ones” and using codes like Rolex, goulash and platform heels to describe one candidate and Gouda, the flan, and the grey man to describe the other. Marine Le Pen appeared under the alias “Daddy’s Girl” and Melenchon became red hot pepper.