2017 French Presidential Election

Emmanuel Macron massively defeats the National Front but still needs to win the legislative elections


  • The 2017 French presidential elections took place on April 23 and May 7, 2017. No candidate won a majority in the first round so a runoff was held between the top two candidates: Emmanuel Macron of En Marche! and Marine Le Pen of the National Front
  • Registered voters: 47.6 million
  • Abstention rate: 25.4%
  • Spoiled and blank votes: 8.5%
  • The Constitutional Council will announce the official election result on May 10. Emmanuel Macron will take office on May 14, and announce his appointees for Prime Minister and governmental ministers
  • Following the presidential election, legislative elections will take place on June 11 and 18. La République En Marche! will present candidates in each of the 577 constituencies. Depending on the new parliamentary majority, the PM and governmental ministers may change.

Landslide victory

The presidential election’s second round result is a measure of the President-elect’s credibility. Some estimates after the first round expected Emmanuel Macron to garnr no more than 55% of votes. With 66.1% (according to current Interior Ministry estimates), his victory can be considered a landslide.

Hard defeat for the National Front

Support for the extreme Right-wing National Front (FN) party continues to grow: Marine Le Pen obtained 11 million votes — twice as many as her father (Jean-Marie Le Pen) in the second round of the 2002 presidential elections. The FN’s heartlands are in the rust belt of northeastern France and along the Mediterranean coast. But even in these areas, Marine Le Pen won a majority in just two departments, and not a single region. After the Austrian presidential vote in December 2016 and the Dutch general election of March 2017, this result marks another defeat for extreme Right-wing populism in Europe.

A new page in French history

For the first time in modern French history, the two main Left- and Right-wing parties did not reach the second round of the presidential elections. The result is all the more remarkable considering that Macron – at age 39, the youngest head of France since Napoleon – is an independent Centrist, who campaigned without the support of a traditional party structure and has never held elected office before.

A commitment to Europe

One of the few pro-EU candidates in the French presidential campaign, Emmanuel Macron symbolically underscored his commitment to Europe by appearing before his thousands of supporters at the Louvre to the sound of the European anthem, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.

A president already facing challenges

With an abstention rate exceeding 25% – unusually high for a French presidential election – and a significant number of blank and spoiled votes cast, fewer  than half of those registered to vote actually voted for a presidential candidate. While Emmanuel Macron’s support (43.6% of all registered voters) remains higher than that of Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007 (42.7%) and François Hollande in 2012 (39.1%),   moves to contest his legitimacy have already started to appear. The President Elect recognizes that he faces an “immense task” to restore unity among the French people.

The next challenge: secure a parliamentary majority

All parties – En Marche!, Les Républicains, the Socialist Party, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s  extreme Left-wing group Les Insoumis – have already started racing to gain a maximum of seats in the June legislative elections and become a strong force in the future political game. This week, Emmanuel Macron will present his 577 candidates for what could be the most important election of 2017.

In order to succeed in passing most of his reforms and campaign commitments, the President needs an absolute majority in the National Assembly. But Macron’s ability  to form a stable electoral majority is in doubt. He still has no formal party structure since his “En Marche!” movement was created just over a year ago. He is therefore likely to need to form a coalition consisting of his own newbie deputies combined with those who have joined from the existing Left- and Right-wing parties… or even accept a “cohabitation” government (ie, with a Prime Minister from the ranks of a rival party).

France is relieved to see the end of a long and vicious presidential campaign and the beginning of a new era. But the country today remains in uncertainty about the future configuration of its political landscape.


French institutions: the next steps

  • Wed, May 10, 2017: Last meeting of President Hollande government ministers; the Constitutional Council announces the final results of the presidential election
  • Thurs, May 11: Publication in the Official Journal of the election results and of Emmanuel Macron’s personal wealth. Publication of the list of legislative election candidates of “La République En Marche!” – the new name for Macron’s movement.
  • Fri or Sat, May 12 or 13: President Hollande’s government steps down
  • Sun, May 14: President Hollande’s term officially expires at midnight; the handover ceremony with Emmanuel Macron will take place before then, at 10:00 am.
  • May 14 or 15: President Macron appoints a Prime Minister to form the new government.
  • May 16 or 17: Announcement of the composition of the new government by the Secretary General of the President’s office, followed by the first meeting of the Council of Ministers.
  • Mon, May 22: Beginning of the official campaign for the legislative elections.
  • Sun, June 11: First round of legislative elections
  • Sun, June 18: Second round of legislative elections
  • Mon, June 19: Depending on the legislative election results, Emmanuel Macron may decide (or not) to appointment a new PM to compose a new government
  • Tues, June 27: The new legislature convenes, with the 577 elected MPs taking office. A president of the National Assembly is elected and new political groups are formed. In the following days, convocation by the President of the Republic of an extraordinary session allowing MPs to start examining reforms in July

For more information about Macron’s cabinet, please visit this presentation.

Words Burson-Marsteller Paris
Photo CC/Shuttershock



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