Now, get ready for the French train wreck

Admit it, you enjoyed the American elections. And now, your life just feels so empty. What drama are you going to follow now? Reality TV is always the same, it’s depressing, really. You need something new. Something real.

Don’t worry. The French presidential elections are coming up in May, and it’s got the potential to be just as fascinatingly painful as the American elections were.

An overview of the candidates

Those guys are candidates. Don’t worry, you’ll only ever read about 10 names.

Let’s start with a little Who’s Who of the main candidates, shall we? But first of all, quick (and boring, sorry) reminders:

  • the Socialist Party, Green Party and Republicans have each organized a primary election to choose one representative. They really don’t have to do it, but it’s not a habit. The Socialists had already done so in 1995, 2006 and 2012, and the Republicans and Greens are doing it for the first time this year.
  • in order to take part in the first turn of the election, a candidate needs more than 500 mayors endorsing him. In this article, I only mention candidates who are likely to get these 500 endorsements. In 2012, there were 10 of them.
  • during the first turn, everyone votes for their favourite candidate. 2 weeks later, everyone votes between the 2 most popular candidates of the first turn. The person with the most votes in this second turn is immediately sworn in as President.
  • during the late stages of the presidential campaign, all parties are allowed the same airtime, regardless of their size. Really looking forward to Cheminade air time here (you’ll see).
  • one mandate lasts for 5 years, down from a 7-year mandate until 2002.

Far Left

Nathalie Arthaud (Workers’ Struggle) — Philippe Poutou (New Anticapitalist Party) — Jean-Luc Mélenchon (Left Front) — André Chassaigne (French Communist Party) — Yannick Jadot (Ecologists)
  • Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle): Nathalie Arthaud, a high school economy teacher. She calls her colleagues “comrades”, and the others are probably imperialist heathens or something.
  • Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA, New Anticapitalist Party): The candidate’s name is Philippe Poutou, which basically translates to “Phillip Smooch Smooch”. He’s a worker at a car factory and has publicly explained that he didn’t want to be a candidate or be elected in several interviews, once saying that he’s rather be “with my pals, going on strike together and holding bosses hostage together”. Good old-fashioned fun.
  • The Front de Gauche (Left Front) is made of the Parti Communiste Français (PCF — French Communist Party) and pretty much nothing else. Jean-Luc Mélenchon is the historical candidate and came in 4th with almost 20% of votes in 2012, but since he decided that the Communists weren’t good enough for him, he might run as an unaffiliated candidate this time. In that case, André Chassaigne will represent the Parti Communiste Français. André Chassaigne is absolutely not known for his moustache. He does have a very nice moustache, though.
  • The Ecologist Party (Europe Ecologie les Verts, EELV, or “Les Verts” ie. The Greens) are just as irrelevant as in America. The candidate who has won the EELV preliminary voting is Yannick Jadot, who hasn’t done anything special and thus has a bit fewer haters than the others, I guess.

Officially left-wing but actually not that much if we’re to judge from the 2012–2017 mandate during which they were in power

Mainly the Parti Socialiste (PS, Socialist Party), but we don’t really know who belongs where anymore because at least 3 of those guys have created their own party since the last presidential elections. They’ll hold a full “left-wing primary vote”.


I mean, everyone there is trying to make it into the list. I have no idea what’s going on — it’s not just me, nobody really knows what they’re trying to achieve here.

Okay. Here are some of the likely candidates on the Socialist Party (and allies) (and rivals) (and enemies) (and whatever the “En Marche !” party is) primary elections.

François Hollande (Socialist Party, current President) — Manuel Valls (Socialist Party, current Prime Minister) — Arnaud Montebours (Socialist Party) — Emmanuel Macron (Let’s Go!)
  • François Hollande. LOL
  • Manuel Valls, our Prime Minister, has told the media that he’ll be a candidate if Hollande isn’t. He also said that Hollande can’t possibly be a candidate after what he did this term. Loyalty is overrated.
  • Arnaud Montebourg: known for wearing sailor shirts to show his dedication to the French industry. Don’t ask. He left the government saying that the Socialist Party was a travesty and got enrolled in an MBA. Guess he changed his mind because he’s back as a presidential candidate.
  • Emmanuel Macron aka “I might be the Devil in disguise but hey, Cosmo says I’m pretty hot”. He says that he won’t be part of the primary vote and will be an independent candidate. He created his own party, En Marche ! (“Let’s Go!” — this is not a joke, I’m not making anything up), before leaving the government. This guy was our Minister of Economy, but he was way too busy building his brand for the elections to actually do his job. Oops.

So perfectly centrist that they forgot to have an actual political plan in place

François Bayrou (Democrat Movement) — Jean-Christophe Lagarde (Union of the Democrats and Independents)
  • The MoDem (Mouvement Démocrate, Democrat Movement) is an interesting party. It’s literally the party of the guys who aren’t fighting for anything. Their candidate is François Bayrou, unless Alain Juppé (see below) wins the Les Républicains primary election, in which case there will probably be no MoDem representant and they’ll endorse him. The MoDem does nothing. The MoDem takes no initiatives. The MoDem doesn’t endorse, or oppose, anything. But since this is France, we still have a scandal about them. In August, the vice-president of the Party, Robert Rochefort, was arrested for masturbating in a DIY store near Paris, in front of two kids. He pleaded guilty and was let go because fuck us, that’s why.
  • Union des Démocrates et Indépendants (Union of the Democrats and Independents) is represented by Jean-Christophe Lagarde. They’re useless and anything else I could say about them here would be a waste of your time and mine.

Leaning dangerously towards the far right but since we’ve got literal fascists as our far right we just call those guys right-wing:

Les Républicains (The Republicans) were previously known as the UMP (Union for a Popular Movement). They have a tendency to change names every 10 years, but it’s always the same people in there.

The good side is that even though they change names every 10 years and almost split in 2 in 2013, they’re the only party that got its shit together enough to hold real primaries with everyone being more or less in the same group. The bad side is that they’d all be terrible presidents.

Jean-Frédéric Poisson (Christian-Democrat Party) — Jean-François Copé (Républicains) — François Fillon (Républicains)
  • Jean-Frédéric Poisson. Poisson means Fish. He’s got the charisma of a fish. But any fish would be less sexist and homophobic than him. He’s not a Républicain, but the President of the Parti Chrétien-Démocrate (Christian-Democrat Party). He says that France needs to stop boycotting the National Front (see below) and that Hillary Clinton is a slave to the Zionist lobby. He’s also one of the strongest advocates of the Manif Pour Tous (Protests for All), the anti-gay marriage (Mariage Pour Tous = Marriage for All) movement.
  • Jean-François Copé. He has a weird relationship with Muslims and chocolate bread. In 2013, when campaigning for the UMP presidency, he took the example of a kid who got his pain au chocolat “snatched from him by thugs who claimed you can’t eat during Ramadan” to explain that the Muslim culture was out of control in France and that we need to fight back. About a month ago, he was asked by a journalist how much a pain au chocolat (we’re FRENCH, okay) costs and he answered 15cts instead of about €1, and was accused of not being in touch with the everyday life of French citizens.
  • François Fillon was Sarkozy’s Prime Minister. When he lost the elections to be the UMP President, he left the UMP and created his own party, the R-UMP. Then, when the Républicains became a thing, he joined them. All in all, the RUMP lasted from November 2012 to January 2013. That’s how French politics roll, baby.
Alain Juppé (Républicains) — Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet (Républicains) — Bruno Le Maire (Républicains) — Nicolas Sarkozy (Républicains)
  • Alain Juppé is something like 256 years old. He was the Prime Minister from 1995 to 1997. In 2003, he’s been condemned for embezzlement, and sentenced to a 14-month parole and one year of ineligibility, which makes him one of the most decent candidates in this list.
  • Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet (NKM) is the only woman in there. The only question she was directly asked during the most watched TV debate was “Are you sure you’re running for the Républicains and not for the Socialists?”. She giggled.
  • Bruno Le Maire (BLM) has “cyborg husky eyes”, according to my Twitter timeline.

Far right

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (France Arise) — Marine Le Pen (National Front)
  • Nobody cares about Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, who left the Republicans to create Debout la France (France Arise). He’s completely against the European Union and wants to reduce by 50% the number of immigrants in the country. He also plans on opening a labour camp in Guyana for jihadists because YOLO.
  • The problem with the Front National (National Front) is that they’re the most united party this whole country has. They have a surprisingly leftist economic policy, and are considered “far right” because of their euroscepticism and views on immigration. Marine Le Pen (MLP, Marine) has replaced her father (Jean-Marie Le Pen) at the top of this party, which was financed in 2010 by an association since then accused of fraud and forgery. Even though she’s not as radical as her father, who said that “gas chambers are a detail of history” and has been accused of torturing Algerian war prisoners, she’s compared Muslim street prayers to the Nazi occupation of our country.

Solidarité et Progrès (Solidarity & Progress) aka “What the fuck is Cheminade”

Jacques Cheminade (Solidarity & Progress)

We don’t know what he wants. We don’t know what he is. It’s Jacques Cheminade. Parts of his programme? Abolishing the monetary system, banning violent video games and social networks, which he has called “psychological concentration camps without tears” (we sure do love our WW2 analogies), and colonizing the Moon and Mars. He got 0,28% of votes in 1995 and 0,25% in 2012.

Thanks to @Adamas_FR, @aweusmeuh, @1erprixman, @monsieurtino, @luluesmail, @trollken and Coukaratcheat for making me die a little bit inside for every minute I spent writing this.