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Now for round two

The first round of the French presidential election threw up a few surprises. But now it's a straight fight—and Sarkozy has the upper hand

By Tim King   May 2007

In France, the usual justification for having a first round in the presidential election, full of fringe candidates, is that it gives the electorate a chance to let off steam. By voting for outsiders, it is thought they purge their frustration with the establishment, giving them the serenity they need to vote like responsible citizens a fortnight later. If that is true, then this Sunday was a democratic washout: fully three quarters of the votes were “useful”—that is, for a candidate who had a good chance of becoming president—a figure which excludes the 10 per cent who voted for Le…

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