Saturday, 21 April 2012

French presidential election, 2012

The first round of the 2012 French presidential election will take place on 22 April 2012, with a second round run-off, if necessary, being held on 6 May 2012. The incumbent president, Nicolas Sarkozy, is running for a second successive (and, under the terms of the constitution, final) term in the election. Qualification for the first ballot In order to qualify for the first ballot for President, a candidate must collect the signatures of at least five hundred elected representatives among a total of more than 47,000; these can be mayors, general councillors, regional councillors, deputies, senators, members of the European Parliament elected in France. Ten candidates have qualified in 2012:

François Bayrou

Jean-Francois Kahn, author and ex-director of the newspaper Marianne François Bayrou. is a French centrist politician, president of the Democratic Movement, who was a candidate in the 2002 and 2007 French presidential elections.

Bayrou, a member of the Centre of Social Democrats (CDS), the Christian Democratic componenent of the Union for French Democracy (UDF) confederation, was elected in the General Council of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department in 1982, then in the French National Assembly four years later. After the victory of the RPR/UDF coalition in the 1993 legislative election, he became Education Minister in the cabinet led by Edouard Balladur. In this post, he proposed a reform allowing local authorities to subsidise private schools. This caused massive protests and was quashed by the Constitutional Council.
Despite supporting Édouard Balladur's candidacy in the 1995 presidential election, Bayrou remained Education Minister following Jacques Chirac's election and the creation of a new government headed by Alain Juppé. Following the change of majority in the "Plural Left in the 1997 legislative election he returned in opposition and conquered the presidency of the UDF in 1998, after which he turned it into a unified party rather than a union of smaller parties.
In 2002 François Bayrou rejected the call to merge the UDF party that he presided into a new entity with the Rally for the Republic (RPR) that would subsequently be named the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP). As a consequence, many members of the UDF left for the UMP, while the remainder stayed with Bayrou inside the UDF.
François Bayrou has been increasingly critical of the course taken by the UMP-led government, which he deems to be out of touch with the average Frenchman. He denounces the de facto two-party system, in which the Socialist Party and the RPR (later UMP) have alternated. When in the majority the parliamentarians of both of these parties vote, nearly without question, for the laws proposed by the executive. Instead François Bayrou advocates a system where other voices can be heard.[2]
On 16 May 2006, François Bayrou voted for a motion of no confidence sponsored by Socialist deputies calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin's government following the Clearstream affair.[3] (As de Villepin's UMP had an absolute majority in the National Assembly, the motion failed.) Following Bayrou's support for this measure, France's television authority classified him as a member of the parliamentary opposition for timing purposes; however, after Bayrou protested, he was classified as a member of neither the majority nor the opposition.
In 2007, Bayrou contested the presidency once again. The possibility of a Bayrou presidency took the French establishment by surprise. It had been expecting the battle to be fought primarily between Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal of the Parti Socialiste, both very personable and media-friendly. The rise of Bayrou's poll numbers in February, however, complicated this "Sarko-Ségo" scenario, and raised the distinct possibility that the Parti Socialiste candidate would be excluded from the second round for a second straight election cycle, following the humiliating defeat of former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin in 2002 at the hands of right wing nationalist Jean Marie Le Pen. Ultimately, Bayrou was unsuccessful in his attempt to make it into the second round of the election, but he won 18.57% of the vote (6,820,119 votes) and came in a clear third behind the front-runners Nicolas Sarkozy of the UMP party and Royal of the Parti Socialiste. This was the best performance by the UDF in a Presidential election since 1981. Following the first round, Bayrou declared that he could not endorse either Sarkozy or Royal in the second round, although he did indicate that Sarkozy was the worst of the two choices on offer.

2012 presidential election

August 18th 2011, Bayrou released his new book "2012. Etat d'urgence" in which he describes how and why the current economic crisis happened, and sketches the high-level priorities of his future presidential program: production and education.
Francois Bayrou confirmed his candidacy to the 2012 presidential election by answering with an assertive « yes » the question asked by the journalist Laurence Ferrari on her show Parole Directe (TF1) on November 25th, 2011: "have you decided to be candidate in 2012".

Early endorsements
Jean Arthuis, president of Alliance Centriste, president of the Senate Finance Commitee (2002-2011)
Bernard Bosson, mayor of Annecy (1977-2007), Member of the National Assembly of France for Haute-Savoie (1986-2007)
Pierre Albertini, mayor of Rouen
Anne-Marie Idrac, under-secretary of International Trade for Nicolas Sarkozy (2008-2010)
Alain Lambert, Budget Minister (2002-2004)
Daniel Garrigue, Member of the National Assembly of France for Dordogne and ex-press secretary for Dominique de Villepin

Jean-Luc Mélenchon

Jean-Luc Mélenchon,; born 19 August 1951 in Tangier, French Morocco) is a French politician who served in the government of France as Minister of Vocational Education from 2000 to 2002. He was also a member of the French Senate, representing the département of Essonne.
Mélenchon left the Socialist Party in November 2008 to found the Left Party with French deputy Marc Dolez. As leader of the Left Party, he joined the Left Front before the 2009 European elections and was selected as the coalition's main candidate in the South-West region. At those elections he won 8.15% of the votes cast and was elected to the European Parliament.
Mélenchon is co-president of the Left Party along with Martine Billard. During the protest movement against the pension reform of 2010 his public stature grew thanks to his many public and television appearances.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon is a socialist republican and historical materialist, inspired primarily by Jean Jaurès (the founder of French republican socialism) and employing Marxian analysis to understand the crisis of market capitalism. Although representing the Left Front, in which the French Communist Party is the largest party, he is not himself a Communist[citation needed].

Previously a defender of European federalism, Jean-Luc Mélenchon has renounced that political commitment, declaring that "the European Union is no longer a solution but a problem, because economic liberalism has totally corrupted the institution and makes it impossible to achieve the democratic change needed in the EU, all power belonging to technocrats with no popular legitimacy." For this reason, he is for the establishment of a different, democratic, united, and cooperative Europe, and is opposed to the Lisbon Treaty as well as questioning the independence of the European Central Bank.
Based on his experiences in South America, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, like Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales, favours a "citizens' revolution" (révolution citoyenne), drawing additionally on ideas stemming from the French Revolution and the Paris Commune, and a new strategy that respects the democratic process while seeking to win elections in order to change the constitution. This "citizens' revolution" should lead to a reversal of the current division of wealth held by capital, represented by shareholders, and the working class (understood in the broad sense of anyone who actually works to earn money directly). Additional goals include a new constitution that will initiate a 6th French Republic in which the President will have less power and Parliament more, increase wages, a public bank created by nationalizing the private banks, democratization through the establishment of new rights for employees allowing them to develop cooperatives, the nationalization of large corporations, environmental planning, an exit from NATO, an end to the war in Afghanistan, and peace in the Middle East through the creation of a Palestinian state. Jean-Luc Mélenchon also insists on the importance of "popular involvement" through public referendums on any essential subject. He expressed his support for a even more secularization of the French society and for the legality of same-sex marriage and euthanasia.

Political career

Governmental functions
Minister of Vocational Education, 2000-2002.
Electoral mandates
European Parliament
Member of European Parliament since elected in 2009.
Senate of France
Senator of Essonne, 1986-2000 (became minister in 2000), 2004-2010 (resignation, elected in European Parliament in 2009). Elected in 1986, reelected in 1995, 2004. (At the age of 35, he was the youngest member of the Senate when he was elected to it in 1986.)
General Council
Vice-president of the General Council of Essonne, 1998-2001.
General councillor of Essonne, 1985-1992, 1998-2004. Reelected in 1998.
Municipal Council
Deputy-mayor of Massy, Essonne, 1983-1995.
Municipal councillor of Massy, Essonne, 1983-2001. Reelected in 1989, 1995.
Political function
President of the Left Party since 2008.

Personal life

Born in Tangier, he was educated at the Lycée Pierre-Corneille in Rouen.
His father worked in the postal services, and his Spanish-born mother was a primary school teacher. He grew up in Morocco, until his family moved to France in 1962.
With a degree in Philosophy from the University of Franche-Comté, and having gained the CAPES (a professional teaching qualification), he became a teacher before entering politics.

Marine Le Pen

Marine Le Pen; born Marion Anne Perrine Le Pen; 5 August 1968) is a French politician, a lawyer by profession and the president of the Front National (FN) since 16 January 2011. She is the youngest daughter of the French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen, former president of the FN and currently its honorary chairman.
She joined the FN in 1986, its Executive Committee in 2000 and was a vice-president of the FN for eight years (2003–2011). She currently is an ex-officio member of the FN Executive Office, Executive Committee and Central Committee.
She has been a regional councillor since 1998 (Île-de-France: 2004–2010, Nord-Pas-de-Calais: 1998–2004, 2010–present), a Member of the European Parliament since 2004 (Île-de-France: 2004–2009, North-West France: 2009–present) and was a municipal councillor in Hénin-Beaumont, Pas-de-Calais for three years (2008–2011).
In 2010, she was a candidate for the leadership of the FN set up by Jean-Marie Le Pen on 5 October 1972. She successfully succeeded him during the FN congress in Tours, Indre-et-Loire. On 16 January 2011, she was elected with 67.65% (11,546 votes) as the second president of the Front National.
She is currently running for the 2012 French presidential election.

President of the FN (2011–present)
As a president of the Front National, Marine Le Pen currently sits as an ex-officio member among the FN Executive Office (8 members),[48] the Executive Committee (42 members) and the Central Committee (3 ex-officio members, 100 elected members, 20 co-opted members).
During her opening speech in Tours on 16 January 2011, she advocated to "restore the political framework of the national community" and to implement the direct democracy which enables the "civic responsibility and the collective tie" thanks to the participation of public-spirited citizens for the decisions. The predominant political theme was the uncompromising defence of a protective and efficient State, which favours secularism, prosperity and liberties. She also denounced the "Europe of Bruxelles" which "everywhere imposed the destructive principles of ultra-liberalism and Free trade, at the expense of public utilities, employment, social equity and even our economic growth which became within twenty years the weakest of the world.
After the traditional Joan of Arc and Labor Day march in Paris on 1 May 2011, she gave her first speech in front of 3.000 supporters. On 11 August 2011, she held an exceptional press conference about the current systemic crisis.
On 10 and 11 September 2011, she made her political comeback with the title "the voice of people, the spirit of France" in the convention center of Acropolis in Nice. During her closing speech on 11 September 2011, she tackled the audience about immigration, insecurity, the economic and social situation, reindustrialization and 'strong state'.
During a demonstration held in front of the Senate on 8 December 2011, she expressed during a speech her "firm and absolute opposition" to the right of foreigners to vote.
She regularly holds thematic press conferences and interventions on varied issues in French, European and international politics.

Marine Le Pen will run for the 2012 French presidential election. On 16 May 2011, her presidential candidacy was unanimously validated by the FN Executive Committee. On 10 and 11 September 2011, her political comeback in Nice prefigured the launching of her presidential campaign. During a press conference on 6 October 2011, she officially unveiled the line-up of her presidential campaign team.
On 19 November 2011, she presented in Paris the main thematic issues of her presidential project: sovereign people and democracy, Europe, reindustrialization and strong state, family and education, immigration and assimilation versus communitarianism, geopolitics and international politics. During a press conference held on 12 January 2012, she presented in detail the assessment of her presidential project and a plan of debt paydown of France. During a press conference held on 1 February 2012, she presented an outline of her presidential project for the overseas departments and territories of France.

On 11 December 2011, she held her first presidential meeting in Metz, Moselle, Lorraine. From early January 2012, she held weekly meetings in the major French cities.
On 13 March 2012, she publicly announced that she had the 500 necessary signatures to take part in the presidential election. On 19 March 2012, the Constitutional Council officially validated her candidature and the one of nine others competitors.

François Hollande

François Gérard Georges Hollande, born 12 August 1954, is a French politician who was the First Secretary of the French Socialist Party from 1997 to 2008. He has also been a Deputy of the National Assembly of France for Corrèze's 1st Constituency since 1997, and previously represented that seat from 1988 to 1993. He was the Mayor of Tulle from 2001 to 2008, and has been the President of the General Council of Corrèze since 2008.
On 16 October 2011, Hollande was nominated to be the Socialist and Left Radical Party candidate in the 2012 presidential election. His main opponent is incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Following his re-election as President of the General Council of Corrèze in March 2011, Hollande announced that he would be a candidate in the upcoming primary election to select the Socialist and Radical Left Party presidential nominee. The primary marked the first time that both parties had held an open primary to select a joint nominee at the same time. He initially performed poorly in polls, trailing the front-runner, former Finance Minister and IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, following Strauss-Kahn's arrest on suspicion of sexual assault in New York City in May 2011, Hollande began to lead the opinion polls. His position as front-runner was established just as Strauss-Kahn declared that he would no longer be seeking the nomination. After a series of televised debates throughout September, Hollande topped the ballot in the first round held on 9 October with 39% of the vote, not gaining the 50% required to avoid a second ballot, which he would contest against Martine Aubry, who had come second with 30% of the vote. The second ballot took place on 16 October 2011, which Hollande won with 56% of the vote to Aubry's 43%, after which Hollande was declared the official Socialist and Radical Left Party candidate for the 2012 presidential election. After the primary results, he immediately gained the pledged support of the other contenders for the party's nomination, including Aubry, Arnaud Montebourg, Manuel Valls and 2007 candidate Ségolène Royal.
Hollande's presidential campaign is being managed by Pierre Moscovici and Stéphane Le Foll, a Member of Parliament and Member of the European Parliament respectively.[8] Hollande launched his campaign officially with a rally and major speech at Le Bourget on 22 January 2012 in front of 25,000 people. The main themes of his speech were equality and the regulation of finance, both of which he promised to make a key part of his campaign.
On 26 January he outlined a full list of policies in a manifesto containing 60 propositions, including the separation of retail activities from riskier investment-banking businesses, raising taxes for big corporations, banks and the wealthy, creating 60,000 teaching jobs, bringing the official retirement age back down to 60 from 62, creating subsidised jobs in areas of high unemployment for the young, promoting more industry in France by creating a public investment bank, granting marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples, and pulling French troops out of Afghanistan in 2012. On 9 February, he detailed his policies specifically relating to education in a major speech in Orléans.
On 15 February, incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that he would run for a second and final term, strongly criticising Hollande's proposals and claiming that he would bring about "economic disaster within two days of taking office" if he won. Opinion polls show a very tight race between the two men in the first round of voting, most polls show Hollande comfortably ahead of Sarkozy in a hypothetical second round run-off.

For over thirty years, his partner was fellow Socialist politician Ségolène Royal, with whom he has four children – Thomas (1984), Clémence (1985), Julien (1987) and Flora (1992). In June 2007, just a month after Royal's defeat in the French presidential election of 2007, the couple announced that they were separating.

A few months after his split from Ségolène Royal was announced, a French website published details of a relationship between Hollande and French journalist Valérie Trierweiler. This was controversial as some considered this to be a breach of France's strict stance on politicians' personal privacy. In November 2007, Valérie Trierweiler confirmed and openly discussed her relationship with Hollande in an interview with French weekly Télé 7 Jours.

Nicolas Sarkozy

Nicolas Sarkozy, born Nicolas Paul Stéphane Sarközy de Nagy-Bocsa; 28 January 1955) is the 23rd and current President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra. He assumed the office on 16 May 2007 after defeating the Socialist Party candidate Ségolène Royal 10 days earlier.
Before his presidency, he was leader of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP). Under Jacques Chirac's presidency he served as Minister of the Interior in Jean-Pierre Raffarin's (UMP) first two governments (from May 2002 to March 2004), then was appointed Minister of Finances in Raffarin's last government (March 2004 to May 2005) and again Minister of the Interior in Dominique de Villepin's government (2005–2007).
Sarkozy was also president of the General council of the Hauts-de-Seine department from 2004 to 2007 and mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine, one of the wealthiest communes of France from 1983 to 2002. He was Minister of the Budget in the government of Édouard Balladur (RPR, predecessor of the UMP) during François Mitterrand's last term.
Sarkozy is known for wanting to revitalize the French economy. In foreign affairs he has promised a strengthening of the entente cordiale with the United Kingdom and closer cooperation with the United States. He married singer-songwriter Carla Bruni on 2 February 2008 at the Élysée Palace in Paris.

In his first three years in office, Sarkozy has cut taxes on the rich, loosened labor laws to water down the 35-hour week introduced by a former Socialist government and introduced a landmark pensions reform to raise the retirement age to 62 from 60 by 2018.

On the international stage, he improved relations with the United States, returning French forces to NATO's military command in 2009 in a move that reversed President Charles de Gaulle's 1966 decision. He negotiated a cease-fire in a brief war between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia in 2008 when France held the rotating presidency of the European Union.

He also used the EU presidency at the height of the global financial crisis to press for the creation of G20 summits, expanding the world's economic leadership forum, and for pan-European banking supervision, financial regulation and economic policy coordination among euro zone member states.

Sarkozy campaigned for office promoting a strong work ethic with the slogan "work more to earn more," comfortably beating Socialist candidate Segolene Royal by 53 to 47 percent.

He adopted a more anti-capitalist tone after the global financial crisis began in 2008, vowing to punish speculators and advocating a strong state role in the economy.

Before he was elected president, Sarkozy served as a tough-talking law-and-order interior minister in 2002-04 and 2005-07, separated by a period as finance minister in 2004-05. He won control of the governing center-right UMP party in 2004.

-- A precocious political talent, Sarkozy became mayor of the wealthy Paris suburb of Neuilly in 1983 and made it his power base. He gained national attention in 1993 by offering himself as a hostage to help save the lives of nursery school children taken hostage in his district by a man known as "Human Bomb," who was shot dead by police after a two-day siege.

He became the right-hand man of Prime Minister Edouard Balladur in 1993-95, serving as budget minister and spokesman of Balladur's unsuccessful presidential campaign. That earned him the enduring hostility and suspicion of Gaullist Jacques Chirac, who was president from 1995 to 2007.

Born in the Paris suburb of Neuilly on Jan. 28, 1955, son of a Hungarian father and a French mother of Greek Jewish origin, who divorced in 1960, he was raised a Roman Catholic. He studied law and politics and qualified as a lawyer. In 2007, he divorced his second wife Cecilia Ciganer-Albeniz -- whom he met when he officiated at her wedding and married Italian-born singer and model Carla Bruni in 2008.

Personal life

Sarkozy has been married three times. His married his first wife, Marie-Dominique Culioli, in 1982. They had two sons, Pierre and Jean. Pierre is now a hip-hop producer and Jean is a politician in the city of Neuilly-sur-Seine. Sarkozy and Culioli divorced in 1996. He met Cécilia María Sara Isabel Ciganer-Albéniz, a former fashion model, when he officiated at her wedding in 1984. She left her husband for Sarkozy in 1988 and the pair married shortly after his divorce in 1996. They had one son, Louis. Among accusations of infidelity on both sides, she served only five months as France's first lady before they divorced. Less than four months later, Sarkozy married Carla Bruni, an Italian-French singer and former model. As of this writing, they are expecting a child together.

Political affiliation

Sarkozy was a member of the Rally for the Republic party, a right-wing party founded in 1976 by Jacques Chirac to defend Gaullist identity. It was dissolved in 2002 with its merger into the Union for a Popular Movement, a center-right party opposite the other major political party, the Socialist Party. Through his presidency his party has had ups and downs in municipal and cantonal elections and seen strains with centrists in the coalition.


Sarkozy was a lawyer specializing in business and family law before going into politics full time. At age 23, he sat on the city council of Neuilly-sur-Seine. In 1983, at the age of 28, he was elected as the youngest mayor in France when he took the helm at Neuilly. He would continue to be mayor until 2002, and gained media attention in 1993 for negotiating with a man who had taken a nursery school hostage in the town. He became a member of the National Assembly in 1988. Sarkozy, who had been viewed by many as a Jacques Chirac protege, became budget minister in 1993. After Chirac's 2002 re-election, he appointed Sarkozy interior minister. He would serve in this position from 2002 to 2007. In 2004, he became head of the ruling UMP party and also finance minister. Polls around this time called him the most divisive politician in France.


Sarkozy rules France at a time when immigration and terrorism are key issues, as well as keeping the French economy from heading downward to the same fate as some of his EU allies. Despite his support of a ban on Islamic veils (niqab), Sarkozy has encouraged relations with France's growing Muslim community and eased mosque funding over his career. Sarkozy is more pro-U.S. and pro-Israel than his predecessors, and has brought the country into a position of greater military authority with, for one, the country's leadership role in the NATO assistance of Libyan rebels. His personal life and brashness continue to be the stuff of tabloids. Sarkozy is eligible to run for a second term in 2012, where he'll face another challenge from Socialists including Segolene Royal and possibly Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who appeared to be out of the running when facing sexual assault charges in New York but had those charges against him dismissed.


“What is dangerous is not minarets, but basements and garages that hide clandestine places of worship. Thus we must choose between mosques, where we know that the rules of the republic are respected, and secret places where extremism has been developing for too long."

Emotion in French presidential race

Final polls before a mandatory media blackout on campaigning from midnight on Friday showed Hollande narrowly ahead of the conservative leader for today’s first-round vote but the comfortable winner of the second round on May 6.
Parisians went about their business without being accosted by pamphleteers, while the campaigns’ websites, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds were left without updates and broadcasters had to find other subjects to interview.
But, while Sarkozy ate lunch with campaign staff in Paris, Hollande did risk angering the electoral commission with a limited walkabout in his electoral stronghold, the rural town of Tulle in the central Correze region.
The Socialist leader insisted he was just visiting the market, as he would any weekend morning he was in town, but he did greet well-wishers.
“Rainy Saturday, happy Sunday,” a florist declared, amid an intense shower.
“I hope so. Are you preparing flowers for tomorrow?” Hollande replied.
“Now’s the time,” she replied.
“Yes, now’s the time,” he said with a smile.
Voting began yesterday in French overseas territories, including the north Atlantic islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon just off the coast of Canada.
Voting in the first round began yesterday in France’s far-flung overseas territories – islands in the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans – where 882,000 people enjoy full voting rights as citizens of the republic.
Off the coast of Canada, voting began at 8am local time (1000 GMT) on the tiny French islands of St Pierre and Miquelon, with 4,923 registered voters, then voting moved on to Caribbean territories.
Meanwhile, expatriate French voters living around the world began queuing at their consulates to take part.
The left-wing daily Liberation emblazoned its front page with the headline “A strong left” against the backdrop of a blue ocean under open skies, mocking the slogan and imagery of Sarkozy’s “A strong France” campaign.

More than anything else, this French election campaign is a referendum on the man currently in charge.
Sarkozy inspired voters in 2007 with pledges to break with the past and make France a more dynamic economy.
After an initial wave of reforms, his momentum fizzled. His stormy personal life got in the way: He divorced months into office, then quickly married former supermodel Carla Bruni, and became seen as a bling-bling president more concerned with pleasing his super-rich friends than serving the public.
He enjoyed a string of foreign policy successes, improving relations with the United States and Israel, leading an international airstrike campaign in Libya, rallying European partners to stem Europe's financial crisis.
But voters at home felt forgotten and hurt by a presidency that included France's worst recession since World War II.
Hollande, despite a bland persona and few eye-catching campaign ideas, has been more popular than Sarkozy for months.
Sarkozy showed signs of a possible comeback once he hit the campaign trail. The shooting rampage in southern France also gave him a platform to appear presidential and project the tough guy image that helped launch him to national prominence.
But in recent days his support has lagged again. The last polls before the election, released Friday, show Sarkozy slipping a few points behind Hollande in the first round — and a crushing 10 to 15 points away from victory in the runoff.

In a Friday night rally in the Riviera city of Nice, Sarkozy sought to distance himself from the far right and appealed to his followers: "We must win!"
Hollande looked calm and easygoing as he walked down the main street of Vitry-le-Francois in eastern France on Friday, stopping in a pizzeria, several bars and cafes and a clothing shop to chat.
Crowds were passionate in the nearby town of Saint Dizier, where factories have closed and unemployment is a key concern.

Electoral system in France

In all elections where there is a single official to be elected for a given area, including the two major national elections (the election of the President of the Republic and the election of the members of the National Assembly), two-round runoff voting is used.
For elections to the European Parliament and some local elections, proportional voting is used.

In general, voting is done using paper and manual counting. The voter gets pre-printed bulletins from a table at the entrance of the voting office (they are also provided through the mail), as well as an envelope. They enter the isoloir, or isolation booth, where they're hidden from sight, and insert the appropriate bulletin into the envelope. They walk to the ballot box and show their voter registration card (not compulsory) and are required to prove their identity (in towns of more than 5000 inhabitants, an identification document must be shown). After the officials have acknowledged their right to vote, the ballot box is opened and the voter inserts the envelope. One of the officials traditionally loudly says "a voté", which can be translated as "your ballot has been cast". It is purely ceremonial and has a double meaning: the voter's voice will be taken into account and they've accomplished their civic duty. They then sign the voters' list, and their registration card is stamped.

Procedures differ when electronic voting, not widespread in France, is used in some cities, despite some controversy about its safety and effectiveness.

Voters in France

With the exception of senatorial election, for which there is an electoral college, the voters are French citizens over the age of 18 registered on the electoral rolls. For municipal and European elections, citizens aged 18 or older of other European Union countries may decide to vote in France. Registration is not compulsory, but the absence of registration precludes the possibility of voting. Currently, all youths reaching the age of 18 are automatically registered.

Citizens may register either in their place of residence or in a place where they have been on the roll of taxpayers for local taxes for at least 5 years. A citizen may not be legally registered in more than one place. Citizens living abroad may register at the consulate responsible for the region in which they live.
Only citizens legally registered as voters can run for public office.
There are exceptions to the above rules. Convicted criminals may be deprived of their civic rights, which include the right to vote, for a certain period of time depending on the crime. In particular, elected officials who have abused public funds may be deprived of the right to run for national public office for as long as 10 years. The application of such rules in the case of certain politicians has been controversial; see for instance the case of Alain Juppé.
Voting by proxy is possible when the citizen cannot easily come to vote (reasons include: health problems, the citizen does not live in the voting consistuency, he or she is away for work or vacations, he or she is jailed yet has not been sentenced and deprived of civic rights etc.). 
The citizen designates a proxy, who must be a voter from the same commune. The designation of the proxy must be made before a legally capable witness: a judge, a judicial clerk, or an officier of judicial police, or, outside of France, before an ambassador or consul. In the case of handicapped or severely ill people, an officer of judicial police or delegate thereof can be sent to the home of the citizen to witness the designation. The procedure is meant to avoid pressures on voters.

Elections in France

France is a representative democracy. Public officials in the legislative and executive branches are either elected by the citizens (directly or indirectly) or appointed by elected officials. Referendums may also be called to consult the French citizenry directly on a particular question, especially one which concerns amendment to the Constitution.
France elects on its national level a head of state – the president – and a legislature:
The president is elected for a five-year term (previously, seven years), directly by the citizens (see Election of the President of the French Republic).
The Parliament (Parlement) has two chambers.
The National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) has 577 members, elected for a five-year term in single seat-constituencies directly by the citizens.
The Senate (Sénat) has 348 members, 328 of which are elected for six-year terms by an electoral college consisting of elected representatives from each département, 8 of which are elected from other dependencies, and 12 of which are elected by the French Assembly of French Citizens Abroad (Assemblée des Français de l'étranger) which has replaced the High Council of French Citizens Abroad (Conseil Supérieur des Français de l'Étranger) a 155-member assembly elected by citizens living abroad.
See Government of France for more details about these political structures.
In addition, French citizens elect a variety of local governments. There also are public elections for some non-political positions, such as those for the judges of courts administering labor law (conseils de prud'hommes), elected by workers and employers, or those for judges administering cases of rural land leases.
France does not have a full-fledged two-party system; that is, a system where, though many political parties exist, only two parties have a chance of getting elected to major positions. However French politics displays some tendencies characterizing a two-party system in which power alternates between relatively stable coalitions, each being led by a major party: on the left, the Socialist Party, on the right, the UMP and its predecessors. See politics of France for more details.
Elections are conducted according to rules set in the Constitution of France, organisational laws (lois organiques), and the electoral code.

Elections are always held on Sundays in France. The campaigns end at midnight the Friday before the election; then, on election Sunday, by law, no polls can be published, no electoral publication and broadcasts can be made. The voting stations open at 8 am and close at 6 pm in small towns or at 8 pm in cities, depending on prefectoral decisions. By law, publication of results or estimates is prohibited prior to that time; such results are however often available from the media of e.g. Belgium and Switzerland, or from foreign Internet sites, prior to that time. The first estimate of the results are thus known at Sunday, 8pm, Paris time; one consequence is that voters in e.g. French Guiana, Martinique and Guadeloupe knew the probable results of elections whereas they had not finished voting, which allegedly discouraged them from voting. For this reason, since the 2000s, elections in French possessions in the Americas, as well as embassies and consulates there, are held on Saturdays as a special exemption.

Sarkozy braced for bruising first round in French election

Trailing badly in the opinion polls, every one of which has predicted he will get through the first round but lose in the second, Mr Sarkozy gave no quarter to his chief opponent, Francois Hollande.
Beating his fist in time to his words, he asked: "Why have Europe's other socialist leaders lost power? Because they left the restaurant without paying the bill. Now we're paying it for them and we don't want them back.
"Hollande will lose!"
Sarkozy supporters at his final pre-election rally cheered. But beneath the surface of the buoyant crowd in Nice was a fear that, for all his brash rhetoric, Mr Sarkozy is facing defeat.
Barring a political earthquake, Mr Sarkozy will enter a run off against Mr Hollande after voting on Sunday which will eliminate the eight other candidates.

But recent polls have put Mr Hollande up to 15 points ahead of Mr Sarkozy in the second round of voting as French voters warm to his message of a renegotiated European Union fiscal pact, to loosen the strictures on spending; a 75 per cent tax on those earning more than €1 million; and posts for 60,000 new teachers.
Now the president has just two weeks to convince France to change its mind.
In five years Mr Sarkozy has gone from being the brash outsider, who promised rupture with past and reform to bring France a bright new future, to a man who has presided over widespread disillusion and, more recently, a spate of high-profile defections.
If he succeeds in turning his political fortunes around in the next fortnight, it would be the most breathtaking reversal in modern French political history.

The Socialist candidate also insists that he would overcome German opposition and authorise the ECB to "reflate" European economies by printing money and financing infrastructure programmes across the Continent.

Neither of the front-running candidates has managed to life a morose national mood. The perpetual French tendency to detest incumbents and distrust mainstream politicians has been compounded this year by high unemployment and a fall in the purchasing power of low- and middle-income voters.

Opinion pollsters forecast a low turnout of about 72 per cent, compared with 85 per cent in 2007 when both Mr Sarkozy and his Socialist rival at the time, Ségolène Royal, convinced voters that they were a fresh and different kind of French politician.

Low turnout could upset the arithmetic of the opinion polls, but it is unclear whether it will most extend to voters of the left or right. Much will also depend on last-minute migrations of voters.

A high vote for the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen (who is already credited by polls with her party's highest ever score of 17 per cent) would fatally deflate Mr Sarkozy's total. A high vote for the hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon could relegate Mr Hollande to second place.

Either way, the overall support for the five candidates of the left – about 46 per cent – is so high that pollsters see little chance of Mr Sarkozy overtaking Mr Hollande in the next fortnight.

A close first-round "victory" for Mr Sarkozy tonight would give him a psychological boost and might help him to mobilise the right and centre before 6 May. A first place for Mr Hollande would be a near-fatal electoral blow for the President.

Earth Charter

The Earth Charter is an international declaration of fundamental values and principles considered useful by its supporters for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century. Created by a global consultation process, and endorsed by organizations representing millions of people, the Charter "seeks to inspire in all peoples a sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well-being of the human family, the greater community of life, and future generations." It calls upon humanity to help create a global partnership at a critical juncture in history. The Earth Charter's ethical vision proposes that environmental protection, human rights, equitable human development, and peace are interdependent and indivisible. The Charter attempts to provide a new framework for thinking about and addressing these issues. The Earth Charter Initiative organization exists to promote the Charter.

The approximately 2,400 word document is divided into sections (called pillars), which have sixteen main principles containing sixty-one supporting principles. The document opens with a preamble and ends with a conclusion entitled “The Way Forward”.

We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.

The Charter has been formally endorsed by organizations representing millions of people, including the UNESCO, over 250 universities around the world, the World Conservation Union of IUCN, the Indian National Capital Territory of Delhi, the 2001 U.S. Conference of Mayors,and dozens of youth organizations.
Various groups from several religions support the Earth Charter. The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations representing over 1000 Unitarian Universalist congregations in the United States supports the measure. The official body of the Baha'i Faith religion reacted by saying "While not officially endorsing the Earth Charter, the Baha'i International Community considers the effort toward drafting it and activities in support of its essential objectives to be highly commendable, and it will continue to participate in related activities, such as conferences, forums and the like." The World Pantheist Movement, which supports a naturalistic view of religion, endorses the plan. The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, a Catholic organization in the United States approved the measure in 2004. The Diocese of Newark (New Jersey, USA), an Episcopalian Christian organization, recently endorsed the Earth Charter.
Mayor Hsu of Tainan, a city of 750,000 in Taiwan, endorsed the charter in 2007. The cities of Corvallis (Oregon, USA), Berkeley (California, USA), Pickering (Canada) and 21 towns in Vermont (USA) have endorsed the measure. Nine other towns in Vermont rejected measures endorsing the Earth Charter.
Engineers Without Borders, an international association whose mission is to help its member groups assist poor communities in their respective countries and around the world, also endorses the Earth Charter. The Green Party of Botswana supports the plan. The African Conservation Foundation describes the Earth Charter movement as a "partner".

In the UK, Bournemouth Borough Council endorsed the Charter in 2008.
The Charter has received opposition from several groups. For example, in the United States, members of religious groups, such as the Religious Right have objected to the document on the grounds that it is secular, and espouses socialism. In addition, some conservatives cite an informal comment by Mikhail Gorbachev that the document is "a kind of Ten Commandments" and point to the fact that at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, a copy of the document was placed symbolically in an "Ark of Hope" — an independent project by the American artist Sally Linder. A number of conspiracy theorists claim that the founders of the Earth Charter are attempting to establish a global super-state to enforce the Charter.

Earth Day anthem

There are many songs that are performed on Earth Day, that generally fall into two categories. Popular songs by contemporary artists not specific to Earth Day that are under copyright, or new lyrics adapted to children's songs. Creating new lyrics that are easily translated into multiple languages, and set to a universally recognized melody in the public domain, does not appear to have been attempted.
The "Earth Day Anthem" below satisfies these requirements for a universal song associated with Earth Day. Ludwig van Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" melody is already the official anthem of the European Union (in that case purely instrumental without lyrics), the melody is widely recognized and easily performed, in the public domain, and originally composed for voice. Lyrics for the Earth Day Anthem set to "Ode to Joy" are provided below:
Joyful joyful we adore our Earth in all its wonderment
Simple gifts of nature that all join into a paradise
Now we must resolve to protect her
Show her our love through out all time
With our gentle hand and touch
We make our home a newborn world
Now we must resolve to protect her
Show her our love through out all time
With our gentle hand and touch
We make our home a newborn world

Flag of the Earth

The flag of the Earth is a flag used to represent the Earth. Though there is no internationally agreed upon flag to represent the whole planet, some individuals and organizations have promoted designs for a flag; however, none of these designs have managed to gain much broad recognition.

A flag designed for the first Earth Day (1969) by John McConnell is a dark blue field charged with The Blue Marble, a famous NASA photo of the Earth as seen from outer space.
Because of the political views of its creator and its having become a symbol of Earth Day, this flag is also associated with environmental awareness, and the celebration of the global community. It was offered for sale in the Whole Earth Catalog, which is currently endorsed by John McConnell. The image of the Earth on the flag is public domain and the copyright on the flag design was invalidated in 2001.

The first Earth flag used screen-printing and the colors of the Earth were reversed: the ocean was white and the clouds were blue. With only two colors, one color was for clouds and the other color was for both ocean and land. This image of a later Earth flag shows the correct colors.

Earth Day ecology flag

According to Flags of the World, the Ecology Flag was created by cartoonist Ron Cobb, published on November 7, 1969, in the Los Angeles Free Press, then placed in the public domain. The symbol is a combination of the letters "E" and "O" taken from the words "Environment" and "Organism," respectively. The flag is patterned after the United States' flag, with thirteen alternating-green-and-whites stripes. Its canton is green with a yellow theta. Later flags used either a theta or the peace symbol. Theta would later become associated with Earth Day, which is appropriate due to the fact that theta is the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet and there are eight letters in "Earth Day".

Ron Cobb created an ecology symbol which he published on November 7, 1969, in the Los Angeles Free Press and then placed it in the public domain. The symbol was formed by taking the letters "e" and "o", taken from the words "environment" and "organism", and putting them in superposition, thereby forming a shape reminiscent of the Greek letter Θ (Theta). Look magazine incorporated the symbol into an image of a flag in their April 21, 1970 issue. 
The flag was patterned after the flag of the United States, and had thirteen stripes alternating green and white. Its canton was green with the ecology symbol where the stars would be in the United States flag.

Significance of April 22 Earth Day

Nelson chose the date in order to maximize participation on college campuses for what he conceived as an "environmental teach-in". He determined the week of April 19–25 was the best bet as it did not fall during exams or spring breaks. Moreover, it did not conflict with religious holidays such as Easter or Passover, and was late enough in spring to have decent weather. More students were likely to be in class, and there would be less competition with other mid-week events—so he chose Wednesday, April 22.
Unbeknownst to Nelson, April 22, 1970, was coincidentally the 100th anniversary of the birth of Vladimir Lenin. Time reported that some suspected the date was not a coincidence, but a clue that the event was "a Communist trick", and quoted a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution as saying, "subversive elements plan to make American children live in an environment that is good for them." J. Edgar Hoover, director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, may have found the Lenin connection intriguing; it was alleged the FBI conducted surveillance at the 1970 demonstrations. The idea that the date was chosen to celebrate Lenin's centenary still persists in some quarters, an idea borne out by the similarity with the subbotnik instituted by Lenin in 1920 as days on which people would have to do community service, which typically consisted in removing rubbish from public property and collecting recyclable material. Subbotniks were also imposed on other countries within the compass of Soviet power, including Eastern Europe, and at the height of its power the Soviet Union established a nation-wide subbotnik to be celebrated on Lenin's birthday, April 22nd, which had been proclaimed a national holiday celebrating communism by Nikita Kruschev in 1955.

In Nebraska, Arbor Day falls on April 22, that being the birthday of Julius Sterling Morton, the founder of the national tree-planting holiday that started in 1872, which has been a legal holiday in the state since 1885. According to the National Arbor Day Foundation "the most common day for the state observances is the last Friday in April ... but a number of state Arbor Days are at other times in order to coincide with the best tree-planting weather." It has since been largely eclipsed by the more widely observed Earth Day, except in Nebraska, where it originated.

Earth Day Canada

The first Canadian Earth Day was held on Thursday, September 11, 1980, and was organized by Paul D. Tinari, then a graduate student in Engineering Physics/Solar Engineering at Queen's University. Flora MacDonald, then MP for Kingston and the Islands and Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs, officially opened Earth Day Week on September 6, 1980 with a ceremonial tree planting and encouraged MPs and MPPs across the country to declare a cross-Canada annual Earth Day. The principal activities taking place on the first Earth Day included educational lectures given by experts in various environmental fields, garbage and litter pick-up by students along city roads and highways as well as tree plantings to replace the trees killed by Dutch Elm Disease.
Earth Day Canada (EDC), a national environmental charity founded in 1990, provides Canadians with the practical knowledge and tools they need to lessen their impact on the environment. In 2004, it was recognized as the top environmental education organization in North America, for its innovative year-round programs and educational resources, by the Washington-based North American Association for Environmental Education, the world's largest association of environmental educators. In 2008, it was chosen as Canada's "Outstanding Non-profit Organization" by the Canadian Network for Environmental Education and Communication. EDC regularly partners with thousands of organizations in all parts of Canada. 
EDC hosts a suite of six environmental programs: Ecokids, EcoMentors, EcoAction Teams, Community Environment Fund, Hometown Heroes and the Toyota Earth Day Scholarship Program.

Earth Day Network

Earth Day Network was founded by Denis Hayes and the organizers of the first Earth Day in 1970 and by other national organizers, including Pam Lippe, to promote environmental activism and year-round progressive action, domestically and internationally. Earth Day Network members include NGOs, quasi-governmental agencies, local governments, activists, and others. Earth Day Network members focus on environmental education; local, national, and global policies; public environmental campaigns; and organizing national and local earth day events to promote activism and environmental protection. The international network reaches over 19,000 organizations in 192 countries, while the domestic program engages 10,000 groups and over 100,000 educators coordinating millions of community development and environmental-protection activities throughout the year.
In observance of the 40th anniversary of the April 22 Earth Day, Earth Day Network created multiple global initiatives, ranging from a Global Day of Conversation with mayors worldwide, focusing on bringing green investment and building a green economy; Athletes for the Earth Campaign that brings Olympic, professional, and every day athletes' voices to help promote a solution to climate change; a Billion Acts of Green Campaign which will aggregate the millions of environmental service commitments that individuals and organizations around the world make each year; to Artist for the Earth, a campaign the involves hundreds of arts institutions and artists worldwide to create environmental awareness. EDN mobilized 1.5 billion people in 170 countries to participate in these global events and programs.

EDN has helped create Earth Day organizations worldwide.

Subsequent Earth Day events

To turn Earth Day into a sustainable annual event rather than one that occurred every 10 years, Nelson and Bruce Anderson, New Hampshire's lead organizer in 1990, formed Earth Day USA. Building on the momentum created by thousands of community organizers around the world, Earth Day USA coordinated the next five Earth Day celebrations through 1995, including the launch of Following the 25th Anniversary in 1995, the coordination baton was handed to Earth Day Network.
As the millennium approached, Hayes agreed to spearhead another campaign, this time focusing on global warming and pushing for clean energy. The April 22 Earth Day in 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. For 2000, Earth Day had the Internet to help link activists around the world. By the time April 22 came around, 5,000 environmental groups around the world were on board, reaching out to hundreds of millions of people in a record 184 countries. Events varied: A talking drum chain traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa, for example, while hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., USA.

Earth Day 2007 was one of the largest Earth Days to date, with an estimated billion people participating in the activities in thousands of places like Kiev, Ukraine; Caracas, Venezuela; Tuvalu; Manila, Philippines; Togo; Madrid, Spain; London; and New York.