Avant le déluge: If you want to follow the French presidential elections…

The UK is approximately 3687 miles from the United States of America, and separated by an ocean. The UK is approximately 22 miles away from France, and separated by a channel.

Yet there has already been more coverage expended on the race for the Republican nomination than there has been on the battle to become President of France. The White House trumps the Élysée Palace every time in the mind of the media even though France is closer and the result is more likely to impact directly on the UK.

However, there is good coverage available if you seek it out. So for those who, like me, are keen to understand better what’s going on in the Fifth Republic before France votes — on 22nd April (1st round), then on 5th May (run-off) — here are the five English language sites I’d recommend as a starting point. And please do suggest your alternatives in the comments thread…

    1. France24: the French equivalent of BBC World News, its stated mission is to “cover international current events from a French perspective and to convey French values throughout the world.”

    2. BBC News: doing what the Beeb does best, with in-depth features and analysis, plus profiles of all 10 candidates.

    3. The Economist: It created a storm with its recent feature arguing France is in denial, and urging all the candidates to level with the French people about what’s needed for the country’s economy.

    4. The Guardian: Offering an equally comprehensive mirror image of the Economist’s coverage with an unsurprising tilt towards the left.

    5. LSE Blog: I’m a big fan of the LSE’s politics blog, and their examination of the French presidential election will be both rigorous and impartial.

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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This entry was posted in Europe / International.


  • David Rogers 16th Apr '12 - 10:14am

    Absolutely agree with your central point Stephen, about the media’s obsession (and indeed that of some of our own colleagues) with American politics as opposed to those of our nearest neighbours. And to extend the point, for those of us on the south coast, much of France and Germany, and the whole of several smaller EU nations, is closer than Scotland.

  • Though to be fair, the lack of interest is probably because the result will make very little difference, even in France, let alone internationally.
    Even in France people are not excited by the campaign (I’m French, my whole family lives there, and they vote)

  • Always a supporter of honourable lost causes, I even took time out from a weekend break with my family in Paris to join a woman leafleting for Francois Bayrou, the candidate from our ALDE partners the Mouvement Democratique (MoDem).

  • Steve Comer 19th Apr '12 - 1:01am

    Don’t forget Euronews: http://www.euronews.com has very good coverage too. It covers all European election very well.
    I watch their news most days, its a change form the overly ‘Britocentric’ BBC/ITV/Sky, they produce a good round up. Its available on satellite and cable, and through their website.

  • Ed Maxfield 19th Apr '12 - 1:58pm

    Stephen, how exactly will the result of the French presidential election have more impact on us than the American one?

    The US government is one of two countries capable of shaping the course of the global economy (the other being China). The US government has a huge influence over the direction of the UKs foreign policy and is one of three countries that dominate the globe militarily. There are sharp dividing lines between the Republicans and the Democrats over both foreign and defence policy.

    The French government is one part of the Eurozone and both main candidates are locked in to essentially the same economic strategy (as socialist voters will soon discover to their horror if Hollande is elected). I am also not aware of any world-shaping differences between the two leading candidates over the future direction of French foreign policy.

    The only way I can see the French election having a significant impact on the UK is if either the FN or the far left win as that would blow apart the established Euro-consensus. Mercifully that seems unlikely.

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