From the triumph of Francois Mitterrand in 1981 to the surprise of Le Pen in 2002, the presidential elections are often known for their twists and turns. On May 7, the French will elect François Hollande’s successor. Look back on the presidential elections from 1965 to today through these infographics.
In French elections the first round does not necessarily mirror the final results. François Mitterrand (1974), Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (1981) and Lionel Jospin (1995) have had this bitter experience.
On the other hand, Charles de Gaulle retained his impressive first round result of the 1965 elections, carrying 44.6% of votes in the first elections of the Fifth Republic. No candidate has done better since.
The lowest score was achieved by Guy Héraud, the European federalist candidate in 1974, who only managed to garner 0.08% of the vote.
Who is voting?
The number of registered voters in France has increased alongside changes in the demographic make-up of the country. In 2017 there are nearly 47 million registered voters for 67 million inhabitants.
The ratio has remained stable since the introduction of the register in 1965. It should also be noted that the number of enrollees has often been revised downwards between the first and second rounds (from a hundred less in 2007 to more than 15,000 in 1995).
The highest abstention rate in the history of the Fifth Republic was recorded in the second round of elections in 1979. Only one other vote crossed the symbolic mark of the 25% of absentees, the first round of the 2002 elections. That opened the door of the second round to Jean-Marie Le Pen, to the surprise of many.
The highest turnout was seen in the second round in 1974, when 87.3% of French citizens voted. Turnout in the 2012 presidential election was 79.5% in the first round.
In 1965 there were only six candidates for the job of President of France. This year there is almost double that number (11). In 2002, the election holding most of the records, sixteen candidates (of which half left or extreme left) had collected the 500 signatures of elected representatives, needed to get on the national ballot paper.
The oldest to stand
The oldest candidate to stand in a French presidential election is none other than Jean-Marie Le Pen, aged 78 in 2007. This year, Jacques Cheminade (75) is the ‘grandfather’ of the group.
As for serving presidents, nobody has beaten the record of Charles de Gaulle, elected at 75 in 1965.
In contrast, the youngest ever candidate was the Trotskyist Alain Krivine. In 1969 he was only 27 years old. This year, Emmanuel Macron (39) is the youngest candidate. If elected, he will beat the record for a President, currently held by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, who was 48 years of age when elected in 1974.
Presidential elections are not great examples of gender equality. The proof: of the ten elections, the number of female candidates never exceeded one third of the candidates, and it was 2007 when the most women (four) took part in the debate. The first woman to stand was Arlette Laguillier (Lutte Ouvrière) in 1974. This year, only two women (Nathalie Artaud and Marine Le Pen) are among the 11 candidates. This is the fewest since the 1995 elections.
The most represented parties in the presidential elections are the Workers’ Struggle (the Trotskyist “Lutte Ouvriere”) and the Socialist Party. They are the only parties to have participated in the every election since 1974. Then comes Le Pen’s National Front, which has seven participations (1974, 1988, 1995, 2002, 2007, 2012, 2017) and the French Communist Party, which has contested one less election, with six (1969, 1981, 1988, 1995, 2002, 2007).
Finally, as far as the candidates are concerned, it is Arlette Laguillier who still holds the record for the number of presidential elections contested. She stood at six consecutive elections between 1974 and 2007.
The first round of the election takes place on Sunday, April 23, with a probable second round taking place on May 7.
Simon Marachian, Jordan Curé-Heaton et Elodie Soupama