Policy competition in the 2002 French legislative and presidential elections

Michael Laver, Kenneth Benoit, Nicolas Sauger

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


    The French two-round system of presidential elections forces candidates to choose strategies designed to maximize their votes in two different, potentially conflicting strategic contexts: a first round contest between many candidates, and a second round between (typically) a left- and a right-oriented candidate. Following a constitutional change in 2000, furthermore, presidential elections are synchronized with legislative elections, more tightly linking presidential candidates to the policy platforms of the parties they represent. This article examines the consequences of policy positioning by presidential candidates, measuring, comparing and assessing positioning in the legislative elections and in the first and second presidential election rounds. The measures come from an expert survey taken in 2002, from content analysis of party manifestos and presidential speeches, and from the 2002 French National Election Survey. The findings provide hard empirical confirmation of two commonly perceived propositions: first, that Jospin's first-round loss resulted from strategic error in moving too close to the policy centre, and second, that Chirac's won an overwhelming second-round victory because he collected all of the voters from candidates eliminated in the first round.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)667-697
    Number of pages31
    JournalEuropean Journal of Political Research
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Jun 2006

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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