Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hollande Makes Headway with Workers

Bernard Girard analyzes a new TNS-Sofres poll:
Ce qui fait penser que les commentateurs qui nous expliquent depuis des années, derrière les analystes du Cevipof et de Pascal Perrineau, que le vote ouvrier est devenu propriété du Front National se trompent. Le tournant ouvriériste de Nicolas Sarkozy et de Marine Le Pen n'a pas convaincu les premiers intéressés. Bien au contraire, semble-t-il, puisque 75% des ouvriers interrogés choisissent, dans ce sondage un candidat de gauche lorsqu'il s'agit de choisir le candidat qui défend le mieux les ouvriers. Ce qui ne veut évidemment pas dire qu'ils voteront pour eux : on peut penser que François Hollande défend mieux les ouvriers et cependant voter pour Nicolas Sarkozy parce qu'on le pense plus énergique ou pour Marine Le Pen par détestation des immigrés. Mais tout de même, cela fait penser que les lignes ne sont pas si nettes qu'on dit.

Autre surprise, les candidats protectionnistes (Le Pen et Mélenchon, 37% à eux deux) arrivent loin derrière les candidats du libre-échange (Hollande, Bayrou, Joly, Sarkozy, 65%), ce qui fait penser que cette thématique n'est pas aussi puissante qu'on a pu le penser.


bernard said...

I will start with the point that this is not at all the first poll I've seen over the years that gives this sort of message. I have always - that means since the eighties and the emergence of the racist party - taken the so-called accepted wisdom that the FN was taking over the working class as being essentially baseless, and resulting from condescending idiots adding insult to injury over both the decline of the communist party and the decline of the traditional industrial working class. What the FN have been taking over are the "déclassés", the lower middle class who cannot make a living nowadays and blame immigrants for it. The working class nowadays is composed on the one hand of industrial workers, ever fewer and mostly of immigrant origin or women, and services employees. this poll likely relates to industrial workers. They don't vote FN and the only surprise here is that Hollande, not Melenchon, is ahead with them. While I will definitely be voting for Hollande, Melenchon is to be commanded for his continuing principled approach to the FN: as Sartre could have said, "les salauds, cela existe".

brent said...

A comment and a question:

First, I feel Bernard is in error to combine JLM and MLP as 'protectionists' (though he might want to reflect on how close Mélenchon is to Hollande in this selective poll). Le Pen is a protectionist for sure, but Mélenchon has called for environmental and social tariffs at the European level, nothing of the sort at the national level. This is arguably a form of protectionism but has little in common with the customs barriers (real ones?!) MLP would erect at France's borders.

Second, I always wonder how stable the categories ouvrier, salarié, even cadre or manager (not to mention travailleur) are in French data. I'm thinking of the muddle in America between blue collar and white, middle and working class, terms that mean less and less each year. Are the categories generally recognized as clearly defined and relatively stable in France?

Arthur Goldhammer said...

I think there is confusion on these categories everywhere. In France, the distinction between la classe ouvrière and les classes populaires bedevils many surveys. The latter may include some of the déclassés Bernard is talking about in the comment above. In the US, we have the new category "white working class," as if to suggest that while nonwhites may be workers, their solidarities are primarily ethnic rather than economic. Meanwhile, the content of "work" is constantly changing. So we are in a huge conceptual muddle, and you're right to point this out.

bernard said...

Bernard Girard and Bernard commenting on this blog are two different personae. Art knows this from location issues - I live in Southern Africa - but Brent might not.

brent said...

Thanks for the clarification, Bernard--I was actually responding to Bernard GIrard's remarks before I saw yours (and I did indeed conflate the two of you), though I found yours interesting.

And thanks for the clarification about class terms, Art--though it still seems a bit cloudy just whose opinion Sofres was measuring.