The televised debate of the second round of the presidential election, also called the debate between the two rounds, was initiated in France in 1974. During this first confrontation, VGE and Mitterrand took up the American practice of establishing this type of meeting. you since 1960. This is in no way an obligation, but a tradition of the Fifth Republic well inscribed in our political life. Like a tradition within a tradition: these political and media events have often left behind them a cult phrase or an unforgettable moment. Everytime. Or almost.
1. “You do not have, Mr. Mitterrand, the monopoly of the heart”
May 1974, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing against François Mitterrand. This presidential race is taking place in a very particular context: it is an early election, following the death of President Pompidou the previous month. Giscard was then Minister of Economy and Finance, and Mitterrand, First Secretary of the Socialist Party. When the question of the distribution of wealth comes on the table, the candidate from the left attacks his adversary by explaining to him that it is necessary to show “intelligence” and “heart”. Never mind, Giscard reminds his rival that he does not have “the monopoly of the heart”. This sentence, now cult, reverses the vote: in a few seconds, Giscard recovers some 300,000 voters, gains 1.5 points in the polls and wins the election with 50.81% of the vote.
2. “The man of the past… It’s still annoying that in the meantime, you’ve become the man of the passive”
1981 is the return match between the two men! And what a match… In 1974, VGE had accused Mitterrand of being a “man of the past” given his long political career. A remark that the candidate has never forgotten, and of which he decides to take the opposite view during this new confrontation: “You tend to pick up on the chorus from 7 seven years ago a bit…” The man from the past“… It’s still annoying that in the meantime, you have become, you, passive man. » DROP THE MIC. This time, it was Mitterrand who was elected president with 51.76% of the vote.
3. “You are absolutely right, Prime Minister”
1988, once again, the context is rather particular: in full cohabitation, it is the Prime Minister, Jacques Chirac, and the President of the Republic, François Mitterrand, who clash. A hierarchy that the outgoing President takes pleasure in recalling: he first ensures that the table for debate has exactly the dimensions of that of the Council of Ministers, and decides to address his opponent by calling him “Mr. Prime Minister “. Annoyed, Chirac reminds him that at this time, they are two candidates for the same presidency, and no longer a president and his head of government. Mitterrand’s response… “Yes, you are right, Prime Minister”. BAHAHAHA BUT WHAT CRACK this François! I cry about it. At 54.02% of the polls, the master of the clash, is renewed for a second term.
4. “It is better five years with Jospin than seven years with Chirac”
1995, Jacques Chirac against Lionel Jospin, aka the smoothest and least fun between-two-turns debate of the Fifth Republic. While everyone expected the duel to oppose Chirac and Balladur, it was finally Jospin who came out on top in the first round. The debate is placed under the sign of courtesy, and finally… It’s almost embarrassing. We want clashes and little thug phrases, we don’t want a discussion full of politeness. Tiresome. We will remember this little sentence, even if good… It is brought with too many tweezers, right? Finally, it is Chichi who becomes president with 52.64% of the vote, and this for… 7 years!
5. “No more than I accepted in the past an alliance with the National Front (…) I will not accept tomorrow a debate with its representative”
In 2002, Jacques Chirac broke with republican custom and refused to debate with his surprise adversary: Jean-Marie Le Pen. This is the first time since 1974 that the two finalists have not engaged in the perilous exercise of the debate between the two rounds. You see how we blocked the far right at the time? In any case, the outgoing president did not need these talks: carried by a large movement of votes against the FN, he was elected by more than 82% of the ballot.
6. Small spades and clash galore in 2007
In 2007, no big badasses declarations, but 2h40 of small scrambles, clashes and finalists who fight each other every two seconds. On the one hand, there is Sarko who tries to give the most peaceful image possible. On the other, Ségolène, who tries to impose herself a little more. Result: a fairly lively and uneasy plateau. Among the passage that we will remember: when the PS candidate gets annoyed, Nicolas Sarkozy accuses him of “losing his nerves”. He adds “To be president, you have to be calm”. Reply of the candidate: “I have not lost my nerves, I am angry and there are very healthy, very useful angers”. After this exchange, Sarko is paradoxically judged to be calmer than his adversary and wins the election with 53.06% of the vote.
7. “I, President of the Republic,…”
In 2012, Hollande confronts the outgoing president. At the question ” which president do you plan to be?“, the socialist candidate begins a tirade, whose 15 sentences begin with “me president”, and are all open attacks against certain actions carried out by Sarkozy during his mandate. Opposite, his opponent does not flinch. Result: Holland scores points. Driven by strong “anti-Sarkozy” sentiment, he won the presidency with 51.64% of the vote.
8. “They are there, they are everywhere”
2017. During the last elections, the debate between Macron and Le Pen was more like a boxing ring, where all words were allowed to knock out the opponent, than a real political exchange. Result: Marine ended up twisting and completely ridiculed herself. When the candidates address the divide between France “from above” and “France from below”, she launches into a lunar and very uncomfortable tirade on the “invaders”. I let you watch. Courage. Result: Marine drops below 40% in the polls, and Macron is elected with 66% of the vote.