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The 2002 French presidential election consisted of a first round election on 21 April 2002, and a runoff election between the top two candidates (Jacques Chirac and Jean-Marie Le Pen) on 5 May 2002. This presidential contest attracted a greater than usual amount of international attention because of far-right candidate Le Pen's unexpected appearance in the runoff election.

2002 French presidential election

← 1995 21 April 2002 (first round)
5 May 2002 (second round)
2007 →
  Jacques Chirac 2 (cropped).jpg Jeanmarielepen-profile-harounaaron (cropped 2).jpg
Nominee Jacques Chirac Jean-Marie Le Pen
Party RPR FN
Popular vote 25,537,956 5,525,032
Percentage 82.2% 17.8%

Présidentielles 2002 1er tour (English Wiki colors).svg
Map of first-round results by department; Chirac won every department in the second round.
  Jacques Chirac
  Jean-Marie Le Pen
  Lionel Jospin
  Christiane Taubira

President before election

Jacques Chirac

Elected President

Jacques Chirac

Chirac ran for a second term, emphasising a strong economy (mostly unaffected by downturns in Germany and the USA). It was widely expected that Chirac and Lionel Jospin, the prime minister and candidate for the Socialist Party, would be the most popular candidates in the first round, and would thus go on to face each other in the runoff. However, Jospin unexpectedly finished in third place behind Le Pen. Journalists and politicians then claimed that polls had failed to predict Le Pen's second-place finish in the general election, though his strong stance could be seen in the week prior to the election. This led to serious discussions about polling techniques and the climate of French politics.

Although Le Pen's political party National Front described itself as mainstream conservative, non-partisan observers largely agreed in defining it as a far right or ultra-nationalist party. As a protest, almost all French political parties called for their supporters to vote against Le Pen, most notably the Socialists who were traditionally billed as the archrivals to Chirac's party. Chirac thus went on to win the biggest landslide in a French presidential election (greater even than that of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte in 1848, the first by direct ballot), winning over 82% of the vote.

The National Front would not appear again in the second round of the French presidential election until 2017.



e • d Summary of the 21 April and 5 May 2002 French presidential election results
Candidates Parties 1st round 2nd round
Votes % Votes %
Jacques Chirac Rally for the Republic RPR 5,665,855 19.88% 25,537,956 82.21%
Jean-Marie Le Pen National Front FN 4,804,713 16.86% 5,525,032 17.79%
Lionel Jospin Socialist Party PS 4,610,113 16.18%
François Bayrou Union for French Democracy UDF 1,949,170 6.84%
Arlette Laguiller Workers' Struggle LO 1,630,045 5.72%
Jean-Pierre Chevènement Citizens' Movement MDC 1,518,528 5.33%
Noël Mamère The Greens VEC 1,495,724 5.25%
Olivier Besancenot Revolutionary Communist League LCR 1,210,562 4.25%
Jean Saint-Josse Hunting, Fishing, Nature, Traditions CPNT 1,204,689 4.23%
Alain Madelin Liberal Democracy DL 1,113,484 3.91%
Robert Hue French Communist Party PCF 960,480 3.37%
Bruno Mégret National Republican Movement MNR 667,026 2.34%
Christiane Taubira Radical Party of the Left PRG 660,447 2.32%
Corinne Lepage Citizenship, Action, Participation for the 21st Century CAP21 535,837 1.88%
Christine Boutin Forum of Social Republicans FRS 339,112 1.19%
Daniel Gluckstein Workers' Party PT 132,686 0.47%
Total 28,498,471 100% 31,062,988 100%
Valid votes 28,498,471 96.62% 31,062,988 94.61%
Spoilt and null votes 997,262 3.38% 1,769,307 5.39%
Votes cast / turnout 29,495,733 71.60% 32,832,295 79.71%
Abstentions 11,698,956 28.40% 8,358,874 20.29%
Registered voters 41,194,689 41,191,169
Table of results ordered by number of votes received in first round. Official results by Constitutional Council of France.

Source: List of candidates · First round result · Second round result

First roundEdit

By departmentEdit

By regionEdit

Second roundEdit

2nd round map
     Jacques Chirac      Jean-Marie Le Pen

By departmentEdit

By regionEdit

Opinion pollsEdit


The 2002 election was the first for which the President would be elected to a five-year, instead of a seven-year, term.

In the months before the election, the campaign had increasingly focused on questions of law and order, with a particular focus on crimes committed by young people, especially those of foreign origin. Lionel Jospin was, at the time, Prime Minister of France; the Jospin government was criticised for its "softness" on crime by its political opponents. Alarmist reporting on the TF1 and France2 television channel and other media also over