French Politics

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 25–62

Explaining French elections: The presidential pivot

Original Article

DOI: 10.1057/fp.2015.4

Cite this article as:
Lewis-Beck, M. & Nadeau, R. Fr Polit (2015) 13: 25. doi:10.1057/fp.2015.4


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.


French presidential elections President Sarkozy’s loss explaining French elections comparative voting behavior issues in French elections 

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  2. 2.Département de science politique, Université de MontréalMontréalCanada

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