“It was a fight we couldn’t lose and it ended in a miserable fiasco.” Republican politician Jean-François Copé summed up how many of his party’s supporters felt about the first round of the presidential election.
For months, the right-wing party had expected to sweep to power, counting on the usual right-left rotation of the presidency, a transition that was expected to be hastened given Socialist President François Hollande’s feeble ratings.
But the campaign split the right into two camps. Many in the Republican party condemned François Fillon’s decision not to pull out despite being placed under legal investigation over fraud allegations. The other half stood behind their candidate, instead questioning the independence of France’s judicial system.
Meanwhile, the first-round results left France’s other traditional political force, the Socialist Party, beaten and bloodied. Socialist candidate Benoît Hamon’s first-round showing of 6.06% beat Gaullist independent Nicolas Dupont-Aignan by a mere two points.