Explaining French elections: The presidential pivot
Trying to explain French elections sometimes seems like trying to see through a blinding snowstorm. But a focus on choice and outcome in presidential contests provides a clear path to their understanding. These elections, paramount in themselves, frame the lesser contests. Here we develop a theory of French presidential elections, using a French-style Michigan Model of political behavior. The theory explains these presidential results as a function of long-term forces (for example, social factors and ideological identification) and short-term forces (for example, campaign issues such as immigration, the economy and Europe). The theory is tested against election survey data from the five most recent elections (1988–2012). In general, it accounts well for outcomes in these contests. In particular, it explains why Sarkozy lost in 2012.