We've been in election mode here for a couple of months... the great thing is that the campaigning doesn't seem to last nearly as long as in the US.
The crazy thing is the number of candidates and the party names that keep changing - these are not even the same parties that I learned about in language school in Marseille in 1996.
We had ten candidates in the first round this year:
Nicolas Sarkozy (Union pour un mouvement populaire): current president, right-wing
François Hollande (Parti Socialiste): socialist candidate
François Bayrou (Mouvement Démocratique): centrist
Jean-Luc Mélanchon (Front de Gauche): extreme left
Marine Le Pen (Front National): extreme right, known for wanting to drop the euro in favor of the franc, and kick out the foreigners. I joke that I should vote for her, so she could deport me.
Nathalie Arthaud (Lutte Ouvrière): extreme left, self-proclaimed communist candidate
Philippe Poutou (Nouveau Parti Anti-Capitaliste): anti-capitalist party. We're not sure what they do stand for, but we know what they don't stand for.
Jacques Cheminade (Solidarité et Progrès): left wing, but with some interesting ideas about technologicial progress
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (Debout la République): extreme right wing, I think
Eva Joly (Europe Écologie Les Verts): ecologist party, left-wing
These ten are the ones who stayed in the race and got 500 mayors to back their candidacy. According to Wikipedia, 18 others either backed out at some point, were beaten out in party primaries, or didn't get the 500 required mayoral signatures.
As a naturalized French citizen, I'm entitled to vote in the elections, so this is my second round of presidential elections since adopting French nationality.
We took the boys with us when we voted this morning. Benjamin wanted to know who we voted for, so we told him - big mistake. He's prancing around saying the name over and over. We told him that who we vote for is a secret, and he doesn't need to tell people. He said, oh-so-reassuringly, "I know what a secret is. I won't even tell it in school!" and then proceeded to continue repeating the name over and over.
To counteract his secret-keeping abilities (or lack thereof), I let him look over the election materials and practice learning all of the candidates' names.
Most of our friends already know who we voted for, so it isn't actually that much of a secret.... but most of our friends also don't share our political views, and we'd rather keep our village as friendly and harmonious as possible!
According to our local newspaper, the results in our village, with 151 voting and 30 abstentions, were as follows:
LE PEN 23,18%
Nationally, they are still giving estimations, but the second round, on May 6th, will be between Sarkozy & Hollande.