I was more vigilant for this Presidential election than for the last one; on the 21st of April 2002, having been in France only one month, I worked until 7am in one of Paris' many awful Irish pubs and, after winding down with quite a few Leffes, tumbled into bed at about noon (just as Lear's Fool does when he disappears from the play). I woke up later that night and missed the riots at Place de la Bastille because I didn't leave my flat and I had no TV at the time. Like many on the left I took it for granted that Jospin would not only advance to the second round but win the election itself. When I saw the front cover of Libération the following day with a photograph of the ogre himself Jean-Marie Le Pen, with the word 'NON' above his mocking face, I suffered a delayed reaction of the same sort suffered by right-thinking French people twelve hours before.
I spent most of today out of my flat but I was apprised of the results as soon as they became available, as most people I know in this city are politically-minded (and overwhelmingly anti-Sarkozy). The results were not terribly surprising, except for the poor showing of Le Pen, which proves that Sarkozy's hard-selling of himself as a new-improved xenophobe to the FN's electorate worked very well. Ségo took almost 25% of the vote, which is as much as Mitterand took in 1981, though the overall left-wing vote was far stronger then than this year (it was five years ago too). The prognoses for the second round are not too cheery, IPSOS predict a 54%-46% divide in favour of Sarkozy, which is not too surprising either, but the Bayrou effect may be crucial too. Considering that he increased his share of the vote from 5% five years ago to 18% with what one can only imagine are left-leaning votes, there may be enough there to benefit Royal. And then there are the televised debates. Hopefully Sarkozy will get a bit hot under the collar up there. I'm sceptical but it's all to play for yet. All the fringe-left candidates call for a vote for Ségo in the second round. Well, they would, wouldn't they?