Top ten terms to understand the French Presidential elections

Top ten terms to understand the French Presidential elections

So is it gonna be Macron, Le Pen, Fillon or Mélenchon ? Whatever the result, here are our top ten terms to understand the French Presidential election.


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Emploi fictif or fake jobs (jobs for the boys – or should we say girl)


François Fillon’s troubles started here! The Les republicains (the right-wing party in France) candidate and erstwhile favourite was accused of employing his wife and children as assistants but apparently without them knowing, even though lots of taxpayer’s cash was flowing into their pockets. In France the scandal is known as “penelopegate”, after Penelope, François Fillon’s Welsh wife.


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Sondage or opinion polls


Notoriously unreliable (Brexit… Trump…), the polls have been changing on a daily basis. Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron have been alternating in top spot but radical dark horse, Jean-Luc Melenchon has been making up an astonishing amount of ground over the last weeks.


Débat télévisé


Les débats télévisés take place several times during the run-up to the presidential election. They allow candidates to express their ideas on-screen, playing to the gallery where they can. Melenchon has done particularly well in the débats télévisés.


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Scrutin or ballot


The scrutin is the actual vote and voting takes place over two rounds (premier tour and deuxième tour). Even though there are 11 candidates in the premier tour, there are only four serious contenders for the deuxième.


Parti politique – another easy one for you, though this election has hardly been easy for the established parties!


There are a lot of partis politiques in France but historically there are four main parties: the PS (Parti socialiste), the PCF (Parti communiste français) which has been gobbled up by Jean Luc Melenchon’s own La France Insoumise (France Defiant). Les Républicans are on the right and the FN (Front national), which used to be thought of as the extreme right but which has made itself more voter friendly under Marine Le Pen and is the receptacle of the protest vote. This year another surprise new party has taken centre stage. It’s called En Marche, and is Emmanuel Macron’s electoral vehicle, claiming to be neither right nor left but in the centre.


Campagne électorale or election campaign


The French campagne électorale may not be as impressive as the American presidential campaign but it has been full of unexpected developments this year.


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Vote utile or tactical voting


The vote utile has come to the fore in France during these elections, mainly because it has been looking likely that Marine Le Pen would get through to the deuxième tour, meaning that pretty much whoever else got through alongside her would be voted in as Président, such is the majority disdain for Le Front National (see Jacques Chirac’s win in the deuxième tour in 2002 with 82% of the vote when up against Jean-Marie Le Pen).


Taux d’abstention or abstention rate


The highest ever taux d’abstention in the premier tour of the présidentielles came in 2002 with 28% thanks to the disillusion with socialiste Lionel Jospin. Many people fear a similar figure this time round in the wake of Hollande’s unpopular presidency.


Tribun or orator  


This is the term often used to refer to Jean Luc Melenchon because of his power of persuasion and his oratory. He galvanizes crowds and has been in politics since 1976, so he’s the daddy of French politics!


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Electeur indécis or swing voter

This election counts a large number of swing voter, partly because of the many corruption scandals surrounding the different candidates but also because of the diversity of candidates and ideas. The result has never been so uncertain. Which way are you going to swing?

No doubt we’ve forgotten some vital vocab in our list. Let us know in the comments!!

clara loqacious
1 Comment
  • Posted at 10:20 pm, 22nd April 2017

    it seems to me that a great part of french people do not fear about mlp success , even they do not want her like a president . We do not react anymore in the same way as in 2002

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