PARIS (Realist English). The TV channel France 24 reminded the viewers of one of the significant episodes of the 2002 election campaign. In a April 17 live show, French Prime Minister and Socialist candidate Lionel Jospin scoffs in response to a journalist’s suggestion that he will not go through to the second round of voting, which was scheduled for April 21.
Then the leader of the National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen, destroyed his presidential ambitions by entering the second round with the current owner of the Elysee Palace, Jacques Chirac. “Imagine for a moment, Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Candidate, that you are not in the second round. Who would you vote for?” the journalist Jean Paul Lepers asks Jospin. Surprised by the question, Jospin laughs, throwing back his head. After a short pause, he replies: “No, I have a normal imagination, but it is still subordinated to reason.”
The journalist interrogates the interlocutor: “So it’s impossible?”. “Let’s not say that, but it seems to me that it is unlikely. Good. We can move on to the next question,” Jospin replies with a smile.
On April 21, with a result of 16.86%, Jean-Marie Le Pen enters the second round of elections for the first time in the history of the French far-right movement. Jacques Chirac gets 19.88% — the first place in the number of votes, and Lionel Jospin finishes third with 16.18%, lagging behind the second place by less than 200 thousand votes. The number of abstainers in 2002 was at a record level — 28.4%.
However, in the very second round Chirac wins a convincing victory (82.2%) over Le Pen (17.8%). Many years later, already in 2014, Le Pen admitted that he was “not ready for power” because the National Front did not have at that time the team necessary to govern the country.
In 2007, the 78-year-old Le Pen ran for the fifth time, but did not achieve a similar success: in the first round he took fourth place (10.44% of the vote). Nicolas Sarkozy managed to win over the votes of the National Front. In the first round, the future president of France received 31.1% of the vote.