The way the presidential election in France is run is so different from how it's done in the States, I won't attempt to describe it. This is the second I've watched and I just keep discovering differences. Among many differences: 80% participation! Maybe I can find someone who really understands the process who can write it up for Americans.
Instead I'll pass along a little about the man just elected president that may give you a clue as to how much France differs from the US. None of this is secret, but common knowledge in France.
The first strike against him is that he is president of the leftist Socialist Party. Worse, he's proud of it and hopes to lead France (and the rest of Europe) towards a more just way of running the government.
Other non-issues in the French election:
* Women's right to choose
* Sex education and free access through the school nurse to contraceptives and the morning-after pill in public schools
* Continued abolition of the death penalty
* Whether a candidate is a practicing Christian or even believes in God
* Homosexual marriage (still not allowed, but on its way to becoming legal)
The main issues were purchasing power and restarting the French economy. An issue that some candidates, including the outgoing President, tried to make important was immigration, particularly illegal immigration, hoping to address (or create) French anxiety over people with a different skin color, accent, and culture.
What would provoke endless gossip and scandal in the US doesn't mean a thing to the French, and they don't understand Americans' preoccupation with personal matters that have little do with running a country;