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A tale of party primaries and outsider candidates: the 2017 French presidential election


The 2017 French presidential election was astonishing. It returned a candidate, Emmanuel Macron, with no established party political support. This article places the 2017 election in context. It argues that the introduction of primary elections for the system’s main political parties had unintended consequences that helped Macron win the election. It also argues that Macron’s victory was due a more general electoral context that was wary of established parties and elites, that helped populist candidates, and that eventually returned a candidate in a manner that resembled the return to power of Charles de Gaulle in 1958.

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  1. See the special issue of Pouvoirs, Les Primaires, no. 154, 2015, Paris: Le Seuil.

  2. In order to be eligible, candidates had to be endorsed by 250 elected officials (including at least 20 deputies) and 2500 party members from at least 30 départements. The regulation mimics the rules that apply to presidential elections.

  3. Quoted in Le Monde, 2 June 2017, p. 13.


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Correspondence to Yves Mény.

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Mény, Y. A tale of party primaries and outsider candidates: the 2017 French presidential election. Fr Polit 15, 265–278 (2017).

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  • France
  • Presidential election
  • Party primaries
  • Populism
  • Macron