In the weeks leading up to the 2022 French presidential election, the Jacques Delors Centre explained the course of a typical presidential election from the perspective of a hypothetical candidate – Alice Dupont. You can read the entire overview of the election here.
The first step in the election process is ensuring that you meet all of the eligibility criteria. To be eligible to run for president, potential candidates must be French citizens, at least 18 years old, voters, and demonstrate “moral dignity.”
Now Alice has to raise money to make her ideas accessible to as wide an audience as possible. She can draw on her party and private donations during the fundraising process. She will also receive public funding for her campaign. There are several sources of campaign funding. First, public funding: campaign expenses are reimbursed based on election results. Those who get more than 5% of the vote will receive significantly more public reimbursements (up to ten times more). Second: Bank loans are needed to pre-finance the election campaign. Those who have poor poll ratings will get only a small loan, because banks count on small reimbursements. Therefore: don’t lose time and join the conversation as quickly as possible!
Now Alice has to show that she is not a “small candidate” by collecting 500 signatures from elected representatives in France. With these 500 signatures, she is now ready to officially run for president! These signatures must come from elected representatives from at least 30 different départements. This procedure aims to favour candidates with a national reach. The Constitutional Council then publishes the list of candidates and asks them to make a declaration of interests and activities and a declaration of assets, both of which are made public.
Alice now has to campaign – she has to travel around the country, hold political rallies and take part in political interviews on TV and the radio. Shortly before the election, all candidates receive exactly the same speaking time in radio and television, at comparable broadcast times, this is called the temps de parole. This applies to all candidates and supporters of the candidates and can help smaller candidates to receive more media attention.
Alice has now established herself as a serious presidential candidate and is doing well in the polls. As a result, she is invited to participate in several debates alongside the other candidates. This is the ideal moment to stand out. During the debate, candidates have the opportunity to present their policy proposals, discuss their plans for the presidency and respond to criticism.
Alice has just completed the first round of the presidential election! The next step is the decisive debate on April 20, which will be watched by millions of viewers. On April 24, the next president will be elected. The time between the first and second rounds is very important for the presidential candidates. They have to continue their campaign and prepare for the decisive TV debate, where the most iconic (and sometimes most barbed) words are exchanged.
The election is now over and the results have been decided. See you again at the next election in 5 years!