For the first time in history of the France's Fifth Republic, an outgoing candidate came second in the first round of the presidential election. Such was the fate of Nicolas Sarkozy with 27.1% against 28.6% for his main opponent, François Hollande.
From the beginning, it was clear that Nicolas Sarkozy needed to surprise with a victory over his main rival, François Hollande, in the first round in order to have a chance in the second round. Sarkozy did not pull i off and now most polling institutes are already predicting a Hollande blowout in the second round. Sarkozy's chances to reverse the trend are extremely low.
Nicolas Sarkozy entered the presidential campaign with 25% of electorate behind him (in the first round). But despite having got rid of all the “small” right-wing candidates (Dominique De Villepin, Christine Boutin & Hervé Morin), who were likely to take some of his vote, he did not manage tobeat Hollande.
With a high 80% turnout, Sarkozy was not able to rely on abstainers to swing the vote in his direction. With many expected to vote in the second round, it will be difficult for him to get the votes he needs to go past Hollande. According to polls, Hollande is expected to win by 8 to 12 points in the run-off. Hence the question: Where can he possibly get those missing votes?
Looking at the overall results, the center right (excluding the extremes parties) doesn't aggregate enough votes to lead to a majority in the second round Even in the event the centrist François Bayrou (finished 4th) rallies for Sarkozy, Sarkozy would still only receive about 36%.The left parties aggregate to 42% of votes. Besides, the vote transfer won’t happen automatically, the centrist voters have more sympathy for Hollande than Sarkozy. In fact, 40% have declared that they will vote for him against 25% only for the outgoing president.
Nicolas Sarkozy’s last resort strategy will be to focus on the right. As a matter of fact, just after the results was announced, team Sarkozy was already campaigning on the immigration, terror, borders and security themes to try to recover Marine Le Pen voters.
Yet hasn’t this strategy proved a failure? Back in 2007, Sarkozy managed to capture Le Pen’s voters in the first round. This time, Front National voters came out in support of Marine Le Pen.
But now that she’s out of the race, maybe Sarkozy can count on her voters to beat Hollande. The answer will be no. Unless he reinstates death penalty in the country or charters boats and planes to take back home all “foreigners,” he will not be able to retrieve all Front National’s votes. For Sarkozy to win he will need at least 80 to 90% of them, but only 52% FN voters would vote for him and more surprisingly 27% of them are ready to vote for Hollande.
At this point François Hollande has more vote reserves than Sarkozy. The main narritave has also shifted from being focused onHollande's strengthto Sarkozy's lacking real support. Most left-wing parties eliminated in the first round have lined up behind Hollande. No party has taken such position for Sarkozy as of yet.
And even in the most optimistic statistic scenarios, Sarkozy will still lose to Holland in the second round unless…a miracle happens between now and the 6th May!