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France: A Referendum on National Identity
There is one thing every French citizen agrees upon: the second and final round of the presidential election will have far-reaching consequences. It will not just decide between two candidates, or two parties, or even two political or economic philosophies. Rather, it will settle the fate of France as a nation.
For clarification, examine the 18th district in northern Paris. It voted heavily for the left in the first round on April 22, and is poised to do the same in the second round. François Hollande, the socialist candidate, garnered 43% of the vote there, much more than the 28% he received nationally. Far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon received 15% there but only 11% nationally. The other left candidates received a combined 7% both there and nationally. All in all, the left won a staggering 65% of the vote in the 18th, about 20 points higher than the national returns.
Incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy took only 19% of the vote in the 18th; nationally he took 27%. Far-right contender Marine Le Pen won only 6.5% there, a huge difference from her 18% nationally. Centrist François Bayrou received 7.7% locally and 9% nationally. With the addition of 2% won by conservative dissenter Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, the combined strength of the local right and center amounted to no more than 35%, compared to the national take of 55%.
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