The official list of candidates running for France’s presidency has been announced. Although they have already been campaigning for months, some only got the prerequisite signatures from 500 town mayors in the last few days before Friday’s deadline. Ten succeeded. Five of them can hope to win ten percent of the votes or more in the first round.
Nicolas Sarkozy, the incumbent, head of the UMP right-wing party, is tipped to get 27.5%.
His Socialist party rival Francois Hollande, MP for Corrèze, is polling just half a point behind.
Marine Le Pen, for the Front National, from her fiefdom in Nord pas de Calais, is looking at 17.5%.
François Bayrou with the MoDem party, MP for the Pyrénées Atlantique, is registering 13%.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the Left Front, his home ground l’Essone, has 11%.
The two men in the lead represent the bipolarity of French politics, the traditional left and right.
Following them and following in her father’s footsteps, the far right Marine Le Pen is in her first presidential campaign.
It is François Bayrou’s third attempt. He is a centrist. Again, his ratings illustrate the polarity of the electorate.
The former socialist Mélenchon founded the Left Front four years ago. His ambition is to rally the whole left wing together, under an anti-capitalist banner.
The five relative outsiders are: Norwegian-born Eva Joly, the ‘Europe Ecologie’ candidate, who used to be a magistrate;
Nicolas Dupont Aignan, dissident of the UMP, is the candidate of the sovereigntist party he founded: ‘Debout la République’, Arise the Republic;
Nathalie Artaud, is the choice of the Trotskyist Communist party ‘Lutte Ouvrière’ (Workers’ Struggle);
For the New Anticapitalist Party it is Philippe Poutou.
Argentina-born Jacques Cheminade is representing the LaRouche Movement.
The broad array of candidates highlights the oddness of a system where you see some support going to either a well-credentialled green candidate or a some-would-say ‘conspiracy theorist/slash cult adept’.
The official start to campaigning is 9 April till 20.
The first round of voting will be 22 April.
The second is the 6 May.
The new president will take office 17 May.
Even before the official campaigning begins, the candidates have been appealing to what they think the voters care the most about – whether it is jobs, immigration, austerity or the sovereign voice.
The only certainty in this race is that forceful claims and self-promotion are set to escalate.