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1st round of the French Presidential Election, seen by Grayling France PA team

24th April 2017

French Presidential Election Bulletin


The Public Affairs / Crisis Communications team of Grayling France provides key insights of the 1st round of the French Presidential Election.

This Presidential Election Bulletin will help you drive through the French Presidential election. Grayling is at your disposal should you wish to identify the impact of the election on your activities and to be postioned as an influent actor in this time of political change.


The 1st round of the Presidential election in a nutshell:
Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen won the first round



The First round of the French Presidential Election was held yesterday. Candidate of the “En Marche!” party Emmanuel Macron holds a narrow lead with 23.8 percent of the vote, compared with 21.4 percent for Marine Le Pen for the National Front party (FN).

The abstention has reached 23% which represents almost a 3% increase compared to the 1st round of the 2012 French Presidential Election.

The result is a comprehensive rejection of traditional French politics. For the first time in the nearly 60-year history of the Fifth Republic, neither of the candidates of the established parties of left and right will be in the run off.

Emmanuel Macron who had accumulated a wide array of supporters, securing endorsements notably from François Bayrou of the Democratic Movement (MoDem) as well as numerous others from the Socialist Party, but also a significant number of centrist and centre-right politicians, has secured his place for the 2nd round of the election (May, 7th).

Macron, who has bucked France's two-party system to run as an independent, has injected an element of excitement and surprise into what everyone thought would be a dull contest between the same old political faces.

Marine Le Pen finished second after being in top of several opinion polls during last months with 21,53% of the vote . She managed to secure National Front traditional electorate in North and East of Francer as well as South-East of France but not enough in the other regions to be first after the 1st round. However, National Front realised its best score for a 1st round of a Presidential election in France.

François Fillon that has been dealing with major scandals allegations over payments made to his wife as a parliamentary aide, did not manage to reach the 2nd round with 19,9 % of vote. This constitutes one of the lowest score ever for a "Les républicains" candidate. Although, he was backed by a firm electorate, the most of the 40 per cent of French who were considering abstaining had in fact turn up to vote for Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon finished fourth. He gained 8 points compared to the 2012 French Presidential Election. Jean-Luc Mélenchon political party now represents the first left-wing party in France. However, he did not manage to reach the second round not even the third place which recent opinion polls suggested.

The Socialist Party, represented by Benoit Hamon, lost 13% compared to the 1st round in 2012. The 2012 Socialist electorate voted for Emmanuel Macron and Jean-Luc Mélenchon for a large part, which explains the score of Benoit Hamon. He realises the worst score for a socialist candidate since 1969.

Nicolas Dupont Aignan, Philippe Poutou, Nathalie Arthaud, Jean Lassalle, François Asselineau and Jacques Cheminade, as expected, will not be in the 2nd round. Even Nicolas Dupont Aignan who reached 4,7% will not get his campaign fees reimbursed at 50 % (5% at least is necessary)


Political reactions after the 1st round



Emmanuel Macron states that the French people voted while the country faces a unique moment of its history. 



Marine Le Pen who finished second stated : " the debate will finally occur. French people must seize this chance"



Jean-Luc Mélenchon who finished fourth regrets that results announced are not those we are expected. The far-left candidate did not give any voting instructions for the second round.



Les Républicains (right wing) leader, Eric Woerth: "I think it is not the right-wing that lost but François Fillon"



Benoit Hamon, socialist candidate, reached the lowest score for a socialist candidate since the creation of the party.


As the results became clear, French politicians and several of the defeated candidates appeared to throw their support behind Macron or to speak out against Le Pen.

Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve tweeted an appeal to all voters to back Macron in the second round, "to combat the National Front's disastrous project to take France backwards and to divide the French people."

The Socialist Party's candidate, Benoît Hamon said he took full responsibility for the poor result, and urged his supporters to vote for Macron to defeat Le Pen in the second round, "even if he is not left-wing."




Defeated right candidate François Fillon endorses Macron for second round


However, Front National leaders call for François Fillon and Nicolas Dupont Aignan voters to vote for Marine Le Pen.




Florian Philippot, closest adviser to Marine Le Pen, calls for François Fillon's electorate to join Marine Le Pen for the second round.

Program recap

Emmanuel Macron


Business proposals

Emmanuel Macron is seen as a business-friendly candidate in favor of the liberation of the economy. His business program includes a cut in corporate income tax to 25 percent from 33.3 percent, shifting the wealth tax to property only, introducing a flat 30 percent tax on capital gains, and abolishing a local poll tax for four-fifth of households. Emmanuel Macron wishes to deepen the Labour Law voted last year, bymaking negotiations between unions and bosses less centralised, meaning companies would have more power to negotiate with workers over pay and hour.

He also proposes a 50 billion-euro ($53 billion) investment program, with funds to promote renewable energies, upgrade agriculture, and support training and medical innovation; and a 10 billion-euro fund with state holdings of publicly traded companies to finance “industry of the future”.
Among his business proposals, he wants to introduce a “Buy European Act” to limit public contracts to companies with at least half of their operations in Europe.


In order to tackle France’s unemployment Macron wishes to create a universal unemployment benefits program. Farmers, independent workers, and employees who have quit their jobs would all be eligible for benefits. Under the plan, however, unemployed individuals would not be able to receive benefits if they turn down more than two job offers, as long as the offers propose starting salaries that are no more than 20 percent less of their previous salary.


People suffering from chronic illnesses, or have trouble hearing or seeing, would be paid back in full for their medical care. By 2022, he wants to include free dental care.


His pragmatic environmental approach includes to foster energy transition in transport, particularly by promoting electric vehicles through tax preferences, and the development of charging stations.


His main digital proposals are to install an online platform that overs all administrative procedures, and to harmonize digital regulation across the EU within a “Digital Single Market”, and supporting startups throughout a European Venture capital fund. Emmanuel Macron also wishes to develop a “national strategy to encourage AI-linked technologies, allow a right to experimentation for innovation, and encourage more broadly R&D to flourish on the territory.


Emmanuel Macron is eager to lower inequalities within the French population by reducing the Internet “white zones” and financing the SMEs digital transformation by favoring access to credit on this purpose. He plans on having a total national broadband coverage by the end of 2022.



Macron has said he aims to move France's tax on personal assets over €1.3 million to a focus on real estate rather than productive investment.


Emmanuel Macron is the only candidate who has a very positive discourse on the EU. He notably supports a deeply integrated single market, especially on digital issues to foster the emergence of a “European Google” and the need to share more common standards, especially on the environment.

The 100 first days of Emmanuel Macron as French President


Emmanuel Macron recently stated that if he were elected, he would not introduce an amending Budget Bill before the Parliament this summer. However, He stated that his government will prepare a 5 year programatic Budget Bill at the beginning of autumn, 2017.


Marine Le Pen


Business proposals

Marine Le Pen’s program is based on national priority interests over “political correctness and globalism”. She notably proposes to promote “smart protectionism” including a 3 per cent tax on imports, ban foreign companies with optimization tax-scheme from having access to public procurements. She also proposes “to keep innovation in France” by banning a company that received state subsidies or tax cuts.

She also proposes to cut payroll tax for very small and medium-sized businesses and lower the corporate tax rate for them; to lower retirement age to 60 from the present 62, increase aid to the very poor elderly. She wants to working week to 35 hours, but make overtime tax-free.



Her healthcare program is based on the idea that the current system must not be totally changed. Health Insurance will reimburse as much as today. She is against the privatization of the health reimbursement by private health insurance.


Under the heading of sustainability, Le Pen focuses on replacing the EU’s common agricultural policy with a French version and encouraging local chains of supply and consumption as a practical form of environmentalism. To address France’s massive power generation deficit, she intends to keep nuclear reactors and boost renewables, but not wind power.

The cost will be partly met by a return to productivity and lower unemployment but also, as has Le Pen explained, by ending benefit fraud and tax evasion by multinational companies.


She proposes “to keep innovation in France” by banning a company that received state subsidies or tax cuts.

Marine Le Pen states that she would suppress the 2009 Hadopi Law (Creation and Internet law) and create a position of State Secretary for Economic transformations that would be under the supervision of the Minister for Finances.


Although she states that the public rental controls has led to a decrease of rent paid by tenant, this public controls is not a solution in a long-term.
She also proposes to diminish housing tax by cutting local tax on housing.

Her election would be immediately followed by six months of talks with EU partners to radically change France's membership and turn the bloc into a loose cooperative of countries: no more euro, border-free area, EU budget rules or pre-eminence of EU law.

At the end of six-month, a referendum will be planned on EU membership. Marine Le Pen would recommend leaving if she does not manage to radically change the bloc from the inside.

The first days of Marine Le Pen as French President

Marine Le Pen envisages a recentralised, presidential regime, where a reform of Article 11 of the constitution would give the president much greater scope to consult the electorate directly, by referendum and without referral to parliament. President Le Pen would also reduce the size of the French parliament.

10 reforms would be carryed out within her first two months in power such as cutting the lower three income tax brackets by 10 per cent, and reforming free access to basic healthcare.

Two weeks before the 2nd round


 As political specialists usually say “In the first round you vote for the person you want; in the second you vote against the person you fear."

This is where the “front républicain” or “Republican front” comes into play. In the event of a run-off involving a far-right contender, mainstream parties call on their supporters to vote for the rival candidates.

Although, times have changed, and the process of modernization undertaken by the National Front (NF), coupled with the normalization of its politics under the Sarkozy presidency in particular, have made the efficacy and even possibility of a “Republican front” much more uncertain, it is quite unlikely that Marin Le Pen come to power.

However, the final results might depend on the campaign between the two rounds.This “new” campaign will be peaked on May, 3rd with the Television debate between the two contenders. It will be the independent centrist versus the far-right leader- two radically opposing visions of France.

Emmanuel Macron should secure the Republican front with the aims at attracting François Fillon and Jean-Luc Mélenchon electorate. Marine Le Pen must extend her electorate by attacking Macron’s program on Business, Security and Europe.

What are the next steps?

April, 28th

Opening of the official campaign for the 2nd round


Debate on French TV between the two contenders


May, 7th

2nd round of the French presidential election


May, 11th

Announcement by the Constitutional Council of the name of the next French President


May,11th – May,14th

Investment the next French President between the date of the official announcement by the Constitutional Council and the end of François Holland's term.


May, 14th

End of François Hollande's presidential term


1st round of the legislative election

2nd round of the legislative election



For more information:

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Tel / contact: + 33 (0)1 55 30 80 98


Our team in Grayling Paris:

Rémy DEBRANT: Director France

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Dorothée DAYRAUT JULLIAN: Head of Public Affairs 

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