Breakdown of the first round:
- Nicolas Sarkozy (conservative) 30%
- Ségolène Royal (socialist) 26%
- François Bayrou (center-right) 18%
- Jean-Marie Le Pen (far right) 12%
At 30% Nicolas Sarkozy did much better than the most favorable polls had predicted. The Socialist candidate Ségolène Royal came in second at 26%. These two facts make a Sarkozy victory in the second round face-off against Royal almost inevitable. The 12% who voted for Le Pen will likely go to Sarkozy after Sarkozy shrewdly positioned himself as an anti-immigrant law-and-order candidate. The Bayrou vote is more difficult to predict—it will be courted by the two remaining contenders as energetically as the remaining days permit—but is quite likely to break mostly for Sarkozy. Two different polls predict that Sarkozy will beat Royal 54% to 46% in the second round, scheduled for two weeks from now — May 6.
These results are important for America—and very good news. They demonstrate a rightward shift in French public opinion—and a shift towards a vociferously Atlanticist and pro-American candidate.
The two remaining contenders will face-off in a presidential debate May 2.