Monday, March 19, 2012

Ten Candidates

Ten candidates have had their 500 parrainages validated and will be on the first-round ballot. So, I have a question. How is it that Jacques Cheminade, Philippe Poutou, and Nathalie Arthaud, who collectively might have one percent in the polls, can round up 500 signatures but Dominique de Villepin, a former prime minister, can't, and Marine Le Pen, polling at 17%, claims she had difficulty? This is a nominating system that makes no sense to me.

8 comments:

Kirk said...

It is pretty odd. My only thought is that there are a lot of non-aligned mayors, especially in smaller towns and villages, who are more likely to support such candidates. I know that in my area, pretty much all the mayors of the smaller towns are "independent," and many of them have links with fringe parties, be they the greens, Lutte Ouvriere or others.

As for Le Pen, there's a stigma attached to supporting her, of course...

Anthony Zacharzewski said...

The key word with Le Pen might be "CLAIMS she had difficulty". Outsider chic...

Arthur Goldhammer said...

I'm posting this for TexExile, who can't get past Blogger's Cerberus:

Blogger will not let me post on the ten candidates story. Every time I try to post, the comment disappears and I get invited to start my own blog instead…

I am just speculating here, as I've no idea who signed for whom, but it has always seemed likely to me that established parties have more to do with this than independent mayors. It is not hard to imagine UMP élus signing for fringe candidates of the left, who might siphon off first-round votes from Hollande (they can always justify their signatures on grounds of democracy). They would not, however, sign for Villepin.

As for the reverse process, the problem is that left-wing elected officials would suffer great opprobrium for helping Marine -- hence the disparity. The interesting question for me is why more people on the left did not decide to give Villepin a ballot boost.

The above, though, is pure speculation. I'd love to hear something from a reader with an insider's knowledge of this game.

TexExile

Robert said...

All good points from all of you, but that still doesn't answer the question about Jacques Cheminade. Are his sponsors calculating he will takes votes away from someone? Presumably not. So what's going on here? Are so many small-town mayors so far outside the mainstream that they'll support LaRouche's French lieutenant?

Speaking of which, if election sponsorships have to be public, as the Conseil Constitutionnel recently confirmed, have there been studies of sponsor lists and follow-up interviews on what prompted mayors to support particular candidates? If not, there would be an excellent article idea.

TexExile said...

French colleagues here tell me that the simpler explanation is that Villepin didn't really try to gather the parrainages. As a former prime minister, he cannot be happy to see his poll ratings bumping along at the level of a fringe candidate, so he may have decided to spare himself the indignity of standing and getting 1.5% of the vote.

Of course, that 1.5% could have done real damage to Sarko in a close first round, but perhaps Villepin's pride matters more to him than damaging the president does.

Arthur Goldhammer said...

Good point, Tex! Since pride is Villepin's besetting vice, that must be the explanation!

FrédéricLN said...

on TexExile's last comment: this was also told of Pasqua in 2002, but it seems he had really been unsuccessful.

Small parties like Cheminade's, Poutou's and Arthaud's have small groups of motivated, possibly full time volunteers, working hard since more than one year to collect these "parrainages"; and they have lists of former "parrains" they can call again.

Villepin has none of these two necessary ways to collect signatures. A good amount of personal money he may have invested in hiring phone operators — but too last, and "commercial" calls without political motivations are badly felt by local elected people (who are also militants, or volunteers, in their own way — the Mayor of a village is paid less than the minimum income "Smic").

Altogether, Villepin is highly praised in France for his speech at UNO against the upcoming invasion of Iraq; apart from that, his track record is quite low in my (and many people) opinion. His two years at Matignon can be considered a success only if compared to the desperating Sarkozy term.

FrédéricLN said...

"too last" > "too late" of course (and I apologize for my many other mistakes in English, that readers have to correct by themselves!).