Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Who's For Mélenchon?

Slate.fr, true to the contrarian spirit of its American parent publication, is giving Jean-Luc Mélenchon a hard time about his claim to represent "the workers." (h/t Arun Kapil) So let's concede right off the bat that the demographic polling reported in this article is open to considerable skepticism. Slate's view seems to be that Mélenchon is appealing primarily to what used to be called "the aristocracy of the working class":

Selon cette enquête, l'électorat potentiel de Jean-Luc Mélenchon est dominé par les professions intermédiaires du privé (chef d’équipe, technicien, contremaître) et surtout de la fonction publique (instits, assistantes sociales, éducateurs spécialisés, employés des collectivités territoriales, infirmières), qui constituait déjà le cœur du famélique 1,93% de Marie-George Buffet lors de la présidentielle 2007. Le groupe libéral Trop Libre, lui, pointe aujourd'hui le «paradoxe d’un discours ouvriériste qui séduit par tropisme idéologique un électorat assez éloigné de l’univers des ouvriers».
IFOP's polling now suggests that Hollande is getting 30% of the working-class vote, ahead of Mélenchon, and that Marine Le Pen's strength seems to have waned in this category. What seems clear is that there is a substantial segment of the electorate that is unusually unmoored in this election. Marine Le Pen's recalibration of her party's discourse is perhaps one factor in this unmooring: by shifting her target from race and religion to economic issues, she may have prepared some of her former supporters to prick their ears in other directions as well. And now that she has fallen back on a primarily xenophobic line in the wake of Toulouse and Montauban, workers whom she had attracted early on may be turning in disappointment back to the left in one of its incarnations or the other.

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