PS: Political Science & Politics

Special to PS

Forecasting the 2012 French Presidential Election

Martial Foucaulta1 and Richard Nadeaua2

a1 University of Montreal

a2 University of Montreal


Who will win the next French presidential election? Forecasting electoral results from political-economy models is a recent tradition in France. In this article, we pursue this effort by estimating a vote function based on both local and national data for the elections held between 1981 and 2007. This approach allows us to circumvent the small N problem and to produce more robust and reliable results. Based on a model including economic (unemployment) and political (approval and previous results) variables, we predict the defeat, although by a relatively small margin, of the right-wing incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in the second round of the French presidential election to be held in May 2012.

Martial Foucault is an associate professor in the department of political science at the University of Montreal and director of the European Union Center for Excellence at the University of Montreal/McGill University. He can be reached at

Richard Nadeau is a professor in the department of political science at the University of Montreal. He can be reached at


Editor's note: For readers interested in a longer discussion of different forecasting models and their application to the French case, the tenth anniversary edition of French Politics (10:1, 2012) has a special symposium on the May presidential elections (guest edited by Michael Lewis-Beck). The symposium also reports results from a survey of 100 political scientists and experts on French politics predicting the vote for the candidate of the Front National. For a limited time, there will be open access to this edition at: