In the 2017 French Presidential election, 8,528,585 people, representing 23.86% of the votes cast, voted for Emmanuel Macron of the En Marche! party
7,658,990 people, representing 21.43% of the votes cast, voted for Marine Le Pen of the National Front party.
Of the eleven candidates, two others took a share of the vote that was near enough to the two leading candidate that it was conceivable that either of them might have been in the first two. They are:
- François Fillon of The Republicans party, who took 19.4% with 7,126,632 votes and
- Jean-Luc Mélenchon of La France insoumise who took 19.62% with 7,011,856 votes.
The population of France is 66.03 million and there are 46,891,594 registered voters of whom 36,681,113 voted.
Out of those, 35,737,724 cast a valid vote.
The bottom line is that Le Pen took 21.43% of the votes cast - more than one person in five who voted - and 16.33% - more than one in six people - of all the French people registered to vote.
The 2002 Election
In 2002, there were 41,194,689 registered electors, with 28,498,471 valid votes cast.
Jacques Chirac's Rally for the Republic party took 5,665,855 votes in the first round, representing 19.88% of the votes cast.
Jean-Marie Le Pen of the National Front took 4,804,713 votes in the first round, representing 16.86% of the votes cast.
The only other candidate to get a significant vote in the first round was Lionel Jospin of the Socialist Party who took 4,610,113 votes, representing 16.18% of the votes cast.
In the run-off Jacques Chirac took 25,537,956 votes, representing 82.21% of the votes cast.
Jean-Marie Le Pen took 5,525,032 votes, representing 17.79% of the votes.
Between the first round and the run-off there were spontaneous demonstrations in the streets of Paris and other cities against the rise of Le Pen, with an estimated 250,000 protesting on 25th April.
There was a further demonstration against Le Pen in the May Day parade, with upwards of a million people protesting.
The mass of voters of who did not vote for Jaques Chirac in the first round, voted for him in preference to Le Pen.
You could say it was a resounding victory for those against Le Pen.
But, and here's the thing - Jean-Marie Le Pen increased his vote slightly between the first round and the run-off.
What Has Changed
What has changed is that Marine Le Pen (daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen) has taken her party from a first round vote of 4,804,713 in 2002 representing 16.86% of the votes cast, to a first round vote of 7,658,990 in 2017 representing 21.43% of the votes cast.
That increase cannot be ignored or swept under the table.
Will the people of France be weary from fighting the same battle again to repudiate Le Pen?
Will there be demonstrations on the street against Le Pen and demonstrations for Le Pen?
Will the people of France sense the winds of change and see the world beyond Fortress Europe as a threat that merits someone like Le Pen?