April 22, 2012 marked the first round of the French presidential election. The French system has its particularities. A multitude of candidates can present themselves at the first round, but only the top two candidates advance to the next round. I love that the French have a political party for every group – there’s even one for Hunters and Fishermen! To stand as a candidate for the election, each person must receive 500 endorsements from an elected official. This year, there were 10 candidates. Marine Le Pen represented the far-right Front National, and the far-left was represented by a host of small parties with colorful names like Lute Ouvrier (Worker’s Struggle) that chop up the vote among them. The two main parties are the UMP (Union for a Popular Movement), headed by the loathed incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy, who garnered about 26% of the vote and the Partie Socialiste, headed by the bland challenger François Hollande, who picked up about 29%. The next round will take place in two weeks on May 6. The prediction is that Hollande will win by a handy margin, but nothing’s over until it’s over.
Today’s expression, la messe n’est pas encore dite (lah mess neh paz-en-kor deet) means “mass hasn’t been said yet.” It’s the equivalent of our expression, “it ain’t over until the fat lady sings.” So while the pundits predict and posture, the two politicians must do all in their power to achieve a satisfactory conclusion for their parties – and themselves. After all the Elysées Palace is a rather nice place to live.