France has round one of their presidential elections tomorrow. Since the economic downturn blew up in 2008, just about every leading political party that has faced an election has lost. (One notable exception, Stephen Harper and the Tories in Canada, who got stronger, and saw their traditional rival essentially get summarily executed.)
Nicolas Sarkozy has been in office since 2007, but faces a stiff challenge from the Socialist candidate, Francois Hollande. Hollande was not the first choice to represent his party, but a certain political figure ran into a certain amount of trouble at a New York hotel room, so here we are. Predictably, the prospect of a Socialist victory has caused the Economist to preemptively flip out, in addition to generally deriding the whole affair as the world's most frivolous election. And they said the old Anglo-Gallic animosity was dead.
As you are likely to hear quite a lot in the next few days, France has not elected a left-wing candidate in 17 years. By some estimates, the French left is now in her strongest position since 1981, when Mitterand was elected the first time. (Although his administration quickly made an ideological u-turn.)
The top two candidates from Sunday's election will move on to the second round of the vote, and our pre-election cliche is to watch the vote totals for the far-left and far-right candidates, to glean further insights into the inevitable Sarkozy/Hollande matchup.