Francoise Bayrou, the centrist candidate, gained 18% of the vote and has 6.8 million supporters, but he will not tell them how to vote. Given that he disagrees with the direction offered by both candidates, his message seems to be that his voters should search their own consciences and decide who offers the best, or least worst package for the future of France. This seems to be quite a refreshing stance in modern politics. Not only are there clear political lines and so clear voter choices but there also seems to be an ideological integrity that often is lacking when power can be exercised.
What Bayrou could gain from playing the role of Kingmaker that the media have ascribed to him is unclear. But in many other countries third placed candidates would be running around brokering deals to gain power and influence and even a place in a cabinet. One wonders what shibboleths the Liberal Democrats might abandon if power sharing or a coalition in Westminster was offered? Or indeed, given the example of the Scottish Assembly, how far Labour members would become off message if bolstered by more leftist partners. Bayrou cannot gain anything, but perhaps this will protect his image and his politics in a way that many other careers have become tarnished, think about the German Greens and Joschka Fischer. His biography may well read that he sold out his principles for a position of power; Bayrou seems to want just the opposite.