In 14 Days France Has Two elections.(Opinion &Amp; Editorial)

Manila Bulletin, April 29, 2002 | Go to article overview

In 14 Days France Has Two elections.(Opinion &Amp; Editorial)


(Editor's note: Filipino politicians who are used to winning elections according to our system may not like a mandatory majority rule under a new charter.)

TO Filipino "social and political" scientists and politicians who cannot stop experimenting with forms and types of government the most familiar model to study is still unfolding for the whole world to observe.

Last April 21 (a Sunday) more than 12 candidates for president presented themselves to the French voters of about 40 M on a population of 60 M.

Two well-known national leaders placed first (President Chirac) and third (Prime Minister Jospin). Jean-Marie Le Pen, 73, and founder of a unknown and ultra-right party (National Front) is second.

Costly elections here?

President Jacques Chirac (of the conservative Rassemblement pour le Republique, Gaullists Party) is credited with 19.7 percent of the votes. Le Pen obtained 17.06 percent and Jospin (Socialist Party) placed third with 16.05 percent.

The two leading candidates automatically face a run-off on May 5 (also a Sunday).

Two years ago the Constitution of France was amended reducing the presidential term of seven years to five to take effect at the start of the new term of office in May 2002. President Chirac had not opposed the amendment knowing he was going to run for reelection.

Let's go back to the presidential election of April 23, 1995. In this election, two popular candidates among the eight aspirants were chosen with Lionel Jospin of the Socialist Party getting 23.31 percent of the votes.

In the run-off on May 7 Jacques Chirac (of the RPR Gaullists Party) decisively licked Jospin. Chirac had won 52.64 percent of the 39.97 M votes on a turn-out of 79.77 percent. (Voter turn-out in RP is high, between 75 and 82 percent. In the US voter turnout has been a low of 49 to 52 percent in recent years.)

Last month some members of our Congress suggested a run-off election system to eliminate the "nuisance" candidates and hasten a return to the two-party practice that prevailed before the 1972 Martial Law era.

If we adopt the French system it does not mean that in RP the run-off can decide who would be elected as president with 51 percent of the votes. …

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