Michael Gurstein on Sun, 21 Apr 2002 23:13:01 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] FW: <toc>--Early Exit Polls Show "Huge" Upset in French Elections (AP)

I'd be interested to hear from our European and particularly French
colleagues how we are to understand this turn of affairs.


                  (C) Copyright 2002 The Associated Press

 April 21, 2002



       Filed at 3:01 p.m. ET

 PARIS (AP) -- In a huge upset, extreme-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen
 qualified on Sunday to face President Jacques Chirac in the runoff for
 French president, according to media projections based on exit polls.

 Le Pen, who virulently opposes immigration, was projected to place second
 by all three major French networks, beating Prime Minister Lionel Jospin,
 who was in third place.

 The projected result was seen as a political earthquake. For months,
 polls had consistently projected that Chirac, a conservative, and Jospin,
 a Socialist, would be the top two finishers in Sunday's first round of

 Le Pen is founder and head of the National Front party, which
 historically has blamed immigrants for high unemployment and urban
 violence. He is notorious for once describing the Holocaust as ``a
 detail'' of history. He has denied he is anti-Semitic.

 Le Pen, 73, has played a central role as kingmaker in past presidential
 elections, with a typical score of 15 percent. He placed third in the
 last two races. This is his fourth presidential campaign.

 During the campaign, Chirac denied allegations that he met personally
 with Le Pen between the two rounds of the 1988 presidential election.

 France has been governed since 1981 by Chirac's mainstream right or the
 Socialists on the left. Centrists held power in previous terms.

 For Jospin, a political heir of the late Socialist President Francois
 Mitterrand who has served as prime minister since 1997, it was a crushing

 The three French TV networks based their projections on exit polls
 conducted by three top polling firms: Sofres, IPSOS, and CSA.

 The firms estimated variously that Chirac had won 19.8 to 20 percent of
 the vote; Le Pen 17 to 17.9 percent; and Jospin 16 to 16.1 percent.

 Le Pen, speaking just after the projections were announced when polls
 closed at 8 p.m., said on French television that he had predicted the

 ``It's a great flash of lucidity by the French people,'' he said. Neither
 Chirac nor Jospin had an immediate comment.

 Sunday's first-round of voting featured a record 16 candidates and an
 abstention rate estimated at 28 percent -- the highest in nearly four

 Under the French constitution, if no candidate wins outright with more
 than 50 percent of the votes cast, the two with the most votes face each
 other in the runoff. The runoff is scheduled for May 5.

 French people in the streets expressed astonishment when they heard of
 the media projections.

 ``That's not possible,'' said Agathe Romon, 17, a student in Paris.
 ``It's unbelievable. We were all expecting a duel between Jospin and

                  (C) Copyright 2002 The Associated Press


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