Ten candidates faced off in the first round of presidential elections on Sunday, April 22, with Socialist Party candidate François Hollande taking the most votes at 28.63 percent of ballots, TF1, the Guardian and the Washington Post reported. Hollande will face off with incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy, who came in second with 27.18 percent of the votes, on Sunday, May 6. CNN explored what will determine the outcome of the elections and what is at stake, such as the economy and international relations. Following behind the two leaders were National Front contender Marine Le Pen at 17.9 percent, the Leftist Party’s Jean-Luc Mélénchon with 11.11, Modern Democrat François Bayrou at 9.13 and Green candidate Eva Joly at 2.31 percent.
While she did not pass on to the second round of votes, Marine Le Pen of the National Front made headlines on both sides of the Atlantic for her first showing as the far-right candidate after succeeding her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, as head of the party. Le Pen earned a record 17.9 percent of votes for her party, surpassing the 17.3 percent of votes earned by her father in 2002, when the elder Le Pen moved on to the second round only to meet a considerable defeat by incumbent Jacques Chirac, le Nouvel Observateur and Reuters reported. Unlike leftist candidates who rallied quickly behind François Hollande on Sunday, April 22, Marine Le Pen continued to promote the National Front as the opposition to the political system in France, leaving Nicolas Sarkozy to seek the more than 6 million votes obtained by the far right, according to BBC, TF1 and the Irish Times. Following her strong showing, Le Pen instead bypassed the second round to promote her party in the legislative elections set for June, predicting that the Union for a Popular Movement, the right party of Sarkozy, would implode following the elections, as covered by les Echos and le Monde. L’Express explored how the “anti-system” vote would play out in the second round, concluding that it would be difficult to predict how those against the mainstream would vote (or not vote) in a runoff between two mainstream candidates.
French Interior Minister Claude Guéant and his German counterpart, Hans-Peter Friedrich, signed a letter last week requesting that Denmark, current holder of the rotating presidency of the European Union, include the possibility that member states be allowed to implement temporary border controls in the agenda of the next EU meeting scheduled for Thursday, April 26, in Luxembourg, Libération, Reuters and Spiegel reported. The proposed legislation would allow any member nation to impose border controls, normally not allowed between member nations as part of the Schengen Agreement, for a period of 30 days to ward off influxes of illegal immigration, according to the Telegraph and la Croix.
The Ministry of Sustainable Development and Transportation announced on Monday, April 23, that gas prices in France had fallen for the first time since January, as the most used gasoline dropped from €1.4362 to €1.4295 per liter from the previous weekly report, Europe 1 and le Parisien reported. The news came as the head of CPSSP, France’s emergency oil stock agency, said on Monday, April 23, that France was looking to buy 115,000 cubic meters of crude oil to build up reserves as part of a strategy being discussed by France, Britain and the United States to ward off perpetually rising oil prices in each of those nations, according to Reuters.