Astrology of the 2017 French Presidential Elections: Quelle(s) Surpise(s)!

As a dual French-American citizen living abroad, I’ve been following the ongoing presidential campaign in France with increasing interest, amusement and at times, even disbelief. For those unfamiliar with French politics, this past year has been somewhat of a roller-coaster for the country; much like with the UK Brexit vote and the the election of Donald Trump in 2016, many basic assumptions about leadership and voter preoccupations  in the country have been upended, leaving many both fascinated and a bit lost as to who will be governing the country a month from now.

First, some background on the current political situation In France… To skip directly to my astro-analysis,click here: The Astrological Landscape

France is currently led by a Socialist president (François Hollande), elected for a five-year term in 2012, who has become so unpopular that he decided not to run for a second term – in and of itself almost unheard-of for an incumbent President in France. In recent years, France’s two main political parties (the aforementioned Socialist party on the left-wing/socially progressive side, and the Republicans on the right-wing side), both plagued by scandals and infighting, have declined in the polls , and have undergone several upheavals and attempts to re-organize themselves. One of their most recent initiatives has been to create a primary system, whereby French citizens could vote for a select number of party leaders to become the party’s official candidate for the upcoming presidential election. This is a very new thing for French people to contend with – until now presidential campaigns were rather short (by US standards anyways), lasting only a few months, because candidates from the larger parties were selected internally and anyone else could run for President as long as they got enough endorsements from elected officials. This would mean a rather large pool of candidates (usually at least half a dozen), which the French would whittle down to two in a first round of voting, followed by a runoff election two weeks later. To this has now been added an extra filter: the primary system, which provided the first set of surprises starting late in November 2016, when the perceived favorite of the general public – the center-right Mayor of Bordeaux (and former Prime Minister) Alain Juppé – was ousted by the more conservative former Primer Minister François Fillon, in a stunning electoral upset. Something similar happened to the Socialists a few months later when the outgoing Prime Minister Manuel Valls was trounced by Benoît Hamon, a member of the far-left/utopian wing of the party. In each case, the most ideologically motivated membership of each party promoted their candidate over centrists and long-established politicians who might have had more cross-party appeal.

To this mix we must add the candidacy of the  Marine Le Pen (leader of the extreme-right Front National), who has been steadily gaining in the polls in recent years and whose party has risen from obscurity to near-respectability in some economically struggling areas of the country; an insurgent left-wing campaign by former Socialist minister Jean-Luc Mélenchon (La France Insoumise), and, last but not least, the arrival of Emmanuel Macron – the 39 year old “wunderkid” of French politics who is running on a “neither left nor right” platform called “En Marche” (Onwards!) and who has managed to vault into 2nd place in the polls after quitting  the Hollande government last year (he served briefly as France’s Minister of the Economy) and starting his own political party, with no experience of ever running for office before. And that’s just the main candidates- there are a grand total of 11 people running for President this year… A lot to keep track of!

For several months, Fillon appeared to be leading in the polls, until a major newspaper revealed  in January that his wife and  college-age children were being investigated for taking fake jobs as parliamentary assistants (it is legal in France for members of Parliament, as was Mr. Fillon at the time, to employ family members; however the high salaries involved and difficulty in proving what sort of work they actually produced raised many eyebrows).  His campaign has been struggling ever since  –  Fillon has violently denounced a “shadow government” hellbent on running him into the ground with false accusations , which has led  many Republican voters to lose confidence in his leadership abilities and switch either to Marine le Pen (for the more extreme conservatives) or Emmanuel Macron ( the more moderate voters). Meanwhile, the Socialist Party’s candidate Benoît Hamon, whose very forward-thinking but economically challenged platform was not really popular with his own party to begin with, has been losing ground in recent TV debates to the charismatic and well-spoken Jean-Luc Melenchon. This might sound the death knell of the  the Socialist party – which has been around for the better part of a century – if Mélenchon manages to place ahead of Hamon in the first round. It’s considered unlikely that either of them will make it to the run-off election, which in of itself is a sign of the state of decay of the mainstream Left.

So much for the political backdrop…. It’s been fascinating to follow the news, but I was also interested to see if there was anything “cooking”, astrologically speaking, in the charts of the main candidates , and indeed in France’s chart, that could illuminate why this election season has been so bumpy and unpredictable, and who might have the best chance of becoming President.

The Astrological Landscape

Let’s start by taking a quick look at the the current French government’s “Natal Chart”. France’s democratic institutions are based on a Constitution that came into effect on October 6th 1958 ; the so-called “Fifth Republic” .

Ve Republique

A couple of interesting things about this Constitutional chart: there is a strong emphasis on rule of law, being fair minded – balancing interests with  contractual or institutional partners  (Sun, Mercury, Venus  and North Node in Libra, with North Node conjunct the Descendant; the expansionary and idealistic planets of Jupiter and Neptune conjunct in the 7th house)). On an anecdotal note, the strong Libra and 6th house influence (with Libran ruler Venus being in it’s own sign) also clearly illustrates the the value placed on the arts and cultural life , and focus on work-life balance – the French have been European pioneers for years on issues ranging from early retirement age to lower hourly workweeks.

In the chart of a collective entity such as a country, the Moon is said to represent “the people”, their collective sense of identity. In this case, with Moon at home in its own sign of Cancer and in the 4th house, the French people as a whole are very attached to their roots, an image of themselves as a nurturing, caring country –  and are perhaps somewhat (overly?) nostalgic of their role in history as well. No wonder that this country has purportedly one of the most highly rated (and expensive) healthcare systems in the world! With Aries rising at 20 deg however, this country is not a pushover, and reflects the martial nature of one of its iconic architects,  the legendary General De Gaulle (whose Ascendant is conjunct the Fifth Republic chart’s Descendant and North Node – starkly illustrating the notion that De Gaulle was the ideal partner  that the Fifth Republic France was looking for!)

So, we basically have a country whose outlook is assertive and perhaps at times impulsive (Aries rising), and is very attached to its history and protective of its traditions (Moon in 4th/Cancer) but is also learning how to negotiate and refine its ongoing discourse with its political and economic partners (Libra & 7th house planets), whilst working hard to enjoy the beauty and bounties of life in the process.  (Libra and 6th house planets).

Now let’s take a look at  the major candidates’ natal charts to get a sense of their basic temperament,  how each resonates with the Fifth Republic chart,  and how the upcoming  astrological “weather” (transits) might promote or impede their chances of winning.

Francois Fillon: Neptunian Savior or Victim?

F Fillon

The first thing that comes to mind when observing Francois Fillon’s chart, is that it has a very strong Piscean and Neptunian signature: With both Sun and Moon in Pisces (along with Mercury and Venus) in his 5th and 6th houses, and Pisces ruler Neptune in the 1st house of appearance and outlook on life, Fillon’s personality is infused with Piscean values, such as a potential for empathic ability & sensitivity, a yearning for transcendance and immersing oneself in service to a greater entity… and issues with boundaries. With his Libra ascendant and chart ruler Venus exalted in Pisces, if he had been blessed with musical or poetic talent this chart indicates definite potential for meaningful success in that field – alternately, he could have become the influential leader of a mystical/religious movement ! At its most exalted level, entering politics can be seen as putting oneself in service to Humanity (= becoming a public servant), so in that sense Mr. Fillon’s career might have allowed him to expend some of his Piscean energy in a productive way. But Neptune seeks to create unity by eroding boundaries, so if not handled with self-awareness and integrity, this type of energy can also be  a source of confusion and illusion: someone strongly under this influence can struggle with understanding how s/he is perceived, what is mine vs what is yours, fall prey to delusions -or unwittingly create illusion themselves, but not being clear within themselves about what they are trying to project or represent. Mishandled Piscean energy can also give rise to a “savior/victim” complex and other psycho-mental disturbances such as paranoia, because there is no structure grounded in material reality to balance out the vague, transpersonal energies of Neptune. Add to this the fact that over the last year or so, transiting Neptune has been going over all of his planets in Pisces, starting with his Mercury and Moon last year and at the time of the election it will be exactly conjuncting his Sun. So far the candidate has had mixed success with this influence; on the one hand, he’s managed to surprise commentators with his come-from-behind primary victory , but on the other he’s had to face a voter-confidence-sapping scandal involving supposed “fake jobs” (Neptune = illusion and uncertainty!) for his wife and children, and has recently taken to conspiracy theories originating in the Socialist-run government to galvanize his troops . The Neptunian influence can also explain why he seems to have maintained a small but extremely loyal and ideologically motivated base who see him as their unjustly persecuted leader(Neptune = savior/victim dynamic!)

In terms of Fillon’s connection to the French chart, his Libra Ascendant conjuncting France’s Sun would indicate that initially at least he can appear as presidential material (and in fact he was a popular Prime Minister), however from a longer term developmental perspective, his path seems to be at cross-purposes with France’s (Nodal axis squaring France’s ). The French might also find him unpredictable and have a hard time connecting with him on an emotional level (Fillon’s Uranus/South Node conjunct conjunct France’s Moon in Cancer).

My best guess is that on April 23rd, there might be some confusion around Fillon’s results; either a very close second or third place finish, (third place, of course prohibits him from entering the run-off election on May 6th). If Fillon manages to tap into the higher, more  wavelength of Neptune, this can mean be a call to service; Neptune was directly conjuncting  the Moon when Fillon first declared his candidacy and had just turned direct when he won the primaries.

Benoît Hamon: The Grit in France’s Oyster

B Hamon

Similarly to Fillon, Benoît Hamon also has a Water Sign Sun (in his case, protective , retentive and nurturing Cancer, in the 12th house). His outlook on life (Ascendant) and the way he processes and expresses his thoughts (Mercury) are also in Cancer, and are receiving a supportive trine by Neptune (= compassionate bent). His emotional makeup is more independent though, even iconoclastic (Moon in Aquarius) and there’s indicators that he has a great deal of inner tension between what makes him comfortable, what he values and what he perceives as being of spiritual value. (T Square between the Moon, Venus and Neptune).

In terms of how he relates to the Fifth Republic Chart, Hamon’s Mecury is exactly conjunct France’s Moon, so there is scope for French people to listen to him and find his ideas attractive and relatable. However there are also several and arguably more powerful indicators that what Hamon is offering is “too much too soon” for the country: for one thing, Hamon’s Mars is sitting right on France’s Descendant, and it is also squaring France’s Moon = this configuration can indicate disagreements, irritability, and emotional tension – as if Hamon naturally “riles up” French people, or make them more quick to engage in conflicts of any nature (including, of course, armed conflict). Hamon’s Pluto/Uranus conjunction also squares France’s Saturn, another example of his potential to shake up/explode the current institutional system – something the French do not (yet) seem to have an appetite for, criticism of individual politicians or political parties notwithstanding. On April 23rd, the transiting Sun will be shining a light on Hamon’s North Node, but aside from that friendly aspect there’s not much to indicate a spectacular turnaround in his electoral fortunes (he is currently in 5th position in the polls, and losing ground).

Marine Le Pen: Ready for The Big Time, or Echoing  The Past?

M le Pen

In sharp contrast to Fillon and Hamon, Marine Le Pen has relatively little water in her chart; Air and Fire dominate with  Libra rising and a dramatic Sun-Mercury-Venus combo in Leo, prominently placed in her 10th house of career and societal position (her Midheaven, though, is in Cancer, along with Mars= which might account for her militantly protective political platform, on which her entire career has been based = “France First!”). Her Moon in Capricorn/3rd house denotes someone who is not likely to be  very easily destabilized and can hold her own when expressing her thoughts, although it may take her some time to formulate them.  The Cap/Leo /Libra blend is powerful and magnetic and well suited for someone seeking a position of public authority. To that we can add several significant contacts between Le Pen and France’s chart: Le Pen’s’s Midheaven is sitting right on France’s Moon, linking her career progression to France’s self-identity. Her Ascendant is also relatively close to France’s Sun, which can be giving her image a boost.  There is also a supportive trine from Le Pen’s Jupiter (confidence,optimism) to France’s Venus (value system, economic prosperity). However, in contrast to other candidates’ charts, there are also some signatures that seem to denote a less progressive/ karmic “baggage” type situation: Le Pen’s Saturn ( insecurities, fears, need for structure) is conjunct France’s South Node (= talents and form of awareness that has been mastered in the past, a “been there done that” type of consciousness). And Le Pen’s South Node is conjunct France’s Sun. In other words , from an energetic/life experience angle, Le Pen is part of France’s past, and the energy and experience she has to offer , whilst comforting perhaps and familiar to many segments of France’s population, are not of a sort that can help France move on and develop to its full potential.

Interestingly, though, she’s had some very empowering and expansionary movements to her chart: After a period of self-reflection and recapping in 2015-6, she had a Progressed New Moon in August 2016 and has launched her on a new cycle of her life. On April 23rd, transiting Rx Jupiter will be conjuncting her Ascendant  and  RxPluto will be opposing her Midheaven/ conjuncting her IC. Transiting Uranus will be conjuncting her Saturn ( which rules her IC). Looks like the very foundations of her identity will be re-vamped…I think she will either do much better (or much worse/ crash and burn) than expected.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon: Cheerfully Storming The Barricades of Injustice

JL Melenchon.png

Another  Leo…. Melenchon’s Sun is sitting on the fence between the 11th house of group associations /ideals and the 12th house of connection to transpersonal reality. It also happens to be conjunct the dwarf planet Pluto, whose  potent (if often painful and initially destructive) role in the human personality my astrology teacher fondly likens to “prying up the floorboards of consciousness”. Along with Uranus (the part of us that seeks  to gain autonomy and depart from the status quo) in his 10th house of social standing and impact, it’s pretty clear that Mélenchon’s main focus in this life is to have a disruptive, forceful and transformational impact on collective structures . It’s also worth mentioning here his drama-relishing Mars in Leo (entertainingly spurring groups to action), also in the 11th house. Virgo Rising and Saturn in 0 deg Libra conjunct from the 1st house reinforce Mélenchon’s perfectionist and highly principled nature. As a counterpart, his Moon and his North Node (= what he is building towards in terms of consciousness) are both in Pisces in the 6th house of work habits and health concerns. This points to potential for a very compassionate, selfless /self-forgetting emotional template, a tendency to idealize his counterparts and the need to learn how to ground his ideals in practical forms of service. With the sign Gemini on his Midheaven and the asteroid Chiron (which represents the “wounded healer” in all of us, a special point of vulnerability and enhanced compassion) exactly opposing it, there are clear indications that Mélenchon  has the “gift of gab” and is cut out for ministerial work (in the religious/”preacher” sense rather than in a governmental sense), with an innate  talent for pointing out what’s wrong and galvanizing people into working for a better world.

Now, as to his prospects in the presidential election…Mélenchon does not have many compelling ties with France’s Fifth Republic Chart. Mélenchon’s Jupiter does oppose France’s Sun/Mercury conjunction, which can be an element of support and goodwill, however since this is an opposing aspect it could also indicate potential for exaggeration, lack of caution; potentially going “overboard ” in some way (Melenchon promising too much? Not being able to square his campaign promises with budgetary requirements?). Mélenchon’s Uranus also squares this same Sun/Mercury combination, adding an element of excitement and novelty but also erratic flow – he’s currently surging in the polls because of his very successful recent public appearances and debates, and might even pass over Fillion to third place; however his transits on April 23rd tell a more challenging story, with transiting Chiron both crossing his Descendant , conjuncting his natal Moon and squaring its natal position, and Saturn transiting the 4th house cusp, conjuncting natal Chiron AND close to squaring its natal position as well. These are VERY heavy transits, seeming to indicate some sort of karmic cleansing/ purging/coming to terms with his own emotional vulnerability and how he has managed to convert his thoughts and ideals into concrete and meaningful action.  Transiting Rx Uranus will be forming a tight trine to his Sun ( similar to what happened for Donald Trump on Election night) so that can point to an upset of sorts, but the configuration seems to point at the re-opening of old wounds, and in Mélenchon’s case these are wounds of a spiritual and philosophical nature – as if, whoever wins, (if not him), he will feel a bit helpless and bereft at humanity’s lack of compassion or generosity. At almost 66 years old, this may be the last time he runs for President and so there might be some grieving to do around that as well…

His chart is the one I currently find most intriguing, because it does  not seem to jive with his apparent  political success.

Emmanuel Macron – Older Than His Years

E Macron

Another Fire Sign presidential candidate! Macron has a whopping four planets in the adventurous and optimistically-oriented sign of Sagittarius: his Sun, Venus and Mercury are all huddled in the 11th house of group associations and friendship (an all opposed by their sign ruler, Jupiter in Cancer, from the 5th house of creative endeavors), and Neptune in Sagittarius is in his 10th house of career and social status. Similarly to Mélenchon, this indicates a life focus on societal change & learning to work with groups. Sagittarius is, of all the signs , the “traveler” of the Zodiac, always seeking to discover new ground and expand their  literal or metaphorical horizons. Is it any wonder, then , that he named his movement “Onwards”? . It’s also not surprising that he is the most unabashedly pro-European and internationally oriented of all the presidential candidates. Much has been made of his fluency in English as well.

Macron is not all fire, however – in fact he has a very pragmatic Ascendant in Capricorn and his inner emotional landscape is underpinned by Moon in Taurus = very patient, stubborn, and sensual, not at all scornful of the finer things in life and aware of how human society works – and willing to work within those parameters to advance his cause rather than smash them up and create new ones. Interestingly, his very stable Moon is exactly opposed by Uranus in Scorpio – indicating perhaps more emotional detachment or freedom from conventional relationship patterns (as his much talked about marriage with his former high school teacher – 24 years his senior  – can attest to). Another interesting point is that many of his planets and all of his chart angles (Cusp of 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th houses – all sensitive points of manifestation in his life)  are in the very last degrees of their signs – or at 0 degrees of another. This, along with his Capricorn Rising, signal to me that in many ways he is completing an evolutionary cycle of sorts, and has a  “old soul” approach to life.  He’s certainly blown through several careers and  life stages very quickly, as if he’d already experienced them before – at age 39 he is the youngest-ever major presidential candidate –  and his choice of a significantly older partner can also hint that he yearns for a position in life that matches his own level of inner maturity.

With regards to Macron’s connection to the Fifth Republic chart, it is interesting to note that Macron’s north Node (= talents and type of consciousness needed to be developed for long-term evolution),  is sitting directly on France’s Sun – of all the chart connections I’ve seen with other candidates, this is the one most clearly indicative of potential to help France move forwards on it’s evolutionary path. (As a reminder, LE Pen’s SOUTH Node is conjunct France’s Sun- indicating familiarity and comfort but not necessarily progressive motion). On the other hand, Macron’s Mars *EDIT 05/22: SATURN* squares France’s Mars, so if he becomes President I definitely see there being a struggle to get consensus on his reforming measures , possibly strikes and a very critical media –  a short honeymoon period for sure! Conversely, France’s Uranus is square Macron’s Moon – the demands of the presidency would be sure to blindside Macron from time to time and disrupt his normally placid temperament. On April 23rd, the transiting Nodal Axis will be conjuncting his natal Saturn (ruler of his Ascendant) and Transiting Rx Saturn has just finished passing over his natal Sun = both indicators of coming to terms with his own authority, handling new types of responsibility etc. A passing trine from Venus to his Midheaven (also sextiling his Ascendant) could indicate an agreeable outcome for him on election night , “looking good on camera” etc. Macron’s inner evolution (progressed chart) is even more dramatic when it comes to his prospects. If he manages to make it past the first round, on May 7th (runoff vote) his progressed Moon will be EXACTLY (down to the minute and second of arc!!) conjunct his natal North Node. That is the sign of a “Date with Destiny” if I ever saw one! Progressed Mars will also be very tightly conjunct his Descendant,  again symbolizing the “on the move” energy his political party has created.

So there you have it – we’ll know the results of this uniquely surprising election campaign soon enough (my bet is currently on Macron winning the prize),  but in fact it will only be a beginning, as there are Parliamentary elections coming up right behind this one….and likely to stir the pot even further!

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