Don’t let the French president get elected by chance
Information about Donald Jenkins
In yesterday evening’s edition of France’s daily quality newspaper Le Monde, Guy Carcassonne and Olivier Duhamel made an interesting suggestion for revising the French Constitution, one in which I have myself believed since 2002. Remember, that was the year in which M Le Pen, the candidate of the extreme right, qualified for the run-off in the presidential election, beating the socialist candidate, M Jospin and ensuring the victory of M Chirac.
The suggestion, then, to avoid this happening again is quite a straightforward one: that if the two candidates who are ahead in the first ballot haven’t obtained enough votes to ensure they represent a meaningful proportion of the electorate, an additional, intermediary ballot should be organised:
The risk is far from theoretical. French politics is much more fragmented than it is in the old Anglo-Saxon democracies. It’s quite likely that in 2007, there will be six or seven candidates who, initially at least, will stand some chance of making it to the runoff. Consequently, the likelihood that both the second-ballot candidates will have more than 20 per cent of the vote in the first—a reasonable requirement—is far from high.
I’m not at all a believer in constitutional tinkering. But this small change would be a very welcome one, if not before 2007, then at any rate afterwards.