It is now clear that the polls in the last weeks of the campaign before yesterday’s first round vote were broadly right: Marcon and Le Pen lead with Melenchon and Fillon quickly following. The final percentages (the French insist on going down to the second decimal point) actually give Macron a slightly larger lead than had been predicted, and Le Pen’s score is lower than all bar one poll in the final days. The closeness of those percentages can be misleading; whilst Macron at 23.86% and Melenchon at 19.62% look close, they are in fact separated by 1.5 million votes. Turnout was good, if not spectacular. In my hometown we reached 75% – good for us, a peri-urban spot with a young and very diverse population that often turns out below the national average.
Many on the left can be relieved that they are not forced to side with a disgraced Francois Fillon in the second round. Many on the right will not have too much trouble voting for a resolutely pro-business Emmanuel Macron. But I feel deeply uneasy this morning. Continue reading
A candidate for the French presidency should not be able to win with 20% of the vote – the two round system is specifically designed to ensure that 50% plus one vote is the minimum threshold for the winner. Yet 20% is the magic number this year, for any candidate above that in the first round held this coming Sunday will almost certainly go through to the second round two weeks later. And if a candidate finds themselves against Marine Le Pen in the second round, they will probably be the next President.
For the last two weeks, four candidates have consistently polled around or above 20%, all of whom are currently within four percentage points of each other – effectively within a broad margin of error. Who gets through out of the four is anyone’s guess only four days out. How did we get here? Continue reading
The history of the far left is not short of strong, charismatic men who dominate the will of the public with the force of their character and the bombast of their rhetoric. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, with his insoumis movement fits into this historic line quite neatly. An ambitious plan to reshape society primarily resting on his own force of personality, and a political movement firmly based around his person. His oratory talent, flushes of humour, and sense of outrage have captured the hearts of many voters, who are peeling off from his slightly-more-to-the-centre Socialist rival, Benoit Hamon. And yet he is a man of contradictions, that thus far are being overlooked by the media, and more surprisingly by his own rivals. Continue reading