- Title: Indecision and abstention weigh on unpredictable French election
- Date: 7th April 2017
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (FILE - MARCH 15, 2017) (REUTERS) FRENCH CONSERVATIVE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, FRANCOIS FILLON, COMING OUT OF APARTMENT BUILDING AND GETTING INTO CAR
- Embargoed: 21st April 2017 16:10
- Keywords: France election abstention undecided presidential
- Location: PARIS, SAINT-CLOUD, VILLENEUVE-SAINT-GEORGES, NICE, STRASBOURG AND MARSEILLE, FRANCE
- City: PARIS, SAINT-CLOUD, VILLENEUVE-SAINT-GEORGES, NICE, STRASBOURG AND MARSEILLE, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA0046BEJ9DZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Only two in three French voters are sure that they will vote in the presidential elections which begin in a just over two weeks, adding to the unpredictability of an already close race.
Scandals have dogged the main candidates, conservative Francois Fillon and the far right's Marine Le Pen, and Socialist Benoit Hamon has been undermined by the deeply unpopular government's record.
Parisian taxi driver Lotfi said on Friday (April 7) that he did not feel represented by any of the major players, and did not believe that his preferred candidate - anti-capitalist Philippe Poutou, credited with two percent in Friday's Opinionway poll - would make it through to the knockout round on May 7.
Political historian Alain Garrigou told Reuters on Tuesday (April 4) that presidential elections had traditionally held up well against the rising tide of abstention in local and European polls, but that this year that could change.
In the first round of the 2012 election which pitted current President Francois Hollande against Nicolas Sarkozy and others, only one in five voters chose not to turn out and the rate of abstention was even lower in 2007.
"The risk of high abstention is a loss of legitimacy, the ability to say that a president was only elected by a minority of citizens," Garrigou said.
Recent presidents have seen their approval ratings tumble shortly following their election, Garrigou said, a measure of the danger of tactical voting which leaves many feeling they have voted against rather for their preferred candidate.
In the Paris suburb of Villeneuve-Saint-Georges the rate of abstention in 2012's first round was 28.8 percent.
Doriane Slamani told Reuters that the quality of the candidates this year was so low that not only was she planning on abstaining, but she was encouraging others to do the same.
"I've asked people to stay at home and not to go and vote and to block the country that way, to show their discontent that way," she said.
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