Sunday, April 22, 2012

Further Thoughts

Sarkozy has called for three debates in the next two weeks instead of one. He clearly has confidence in his ability to put Hollande's back to the wall. He looked more confident than Hollande, and his supporters shouted "On a gagné," even though this is the first time in the history of the Fifth Republic that a sitting president has lost the first round. Hollande made the Left's best score since '88, but the Left also came in first in '95 and then lost in the second round (although, as Jospin noted, that was after 14 years of Mitterrand, and the right-wing vote was divided between two candidates in the first round).

Le Pen declared that her ambition is to marginalize the UMP and make her party the major party of the opposition, and she is within striking distance of that goal. Her strategy was obviously more successful than the polls predicted, and she has every reason to continue her anti-Europe, anti-globalization, anti-euro, pro-protectionist, anti-Islamic line. How will Sarkozy try to counter this? Perhaps by playing up the anti-Europe rhetoric he has adopted, hypocritically in my view, over the past few months.

I had thought that this election would be won in the center, and Hollande's centrist strategy was successful enough, but the actual center, represented by Bayrou, is much diminished. Where will Hollande's reserve votes come from? Mélenchon, Arthaud, Joly, and Bayrou aren't quite enough. How many Le Pen voters will he get? I am no longer sure what to believe about the Le Pen vote. The pollsters clearly don't have a good handle on it, so their estimates of le report des voix have to be eyed skeptically.

In short, I think this election is far from over. Hollande will have to define himself more clearly, or will be forced to by Sarkozy, and what effect that will have on both those who backed him in round 1 and those who didn't but who must be enlisted for round 2 remains to be seen. Everything is in play, and I'm frankly worried that I'm not going to like either the direction the campaign takes or the outcome.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I went around the polling stations and the FN vote was super high here - an area that's part rural part industrial/working class, traditionally votes on the left: I figured that Le Pen would be higher than her predicted scores and I even feared she'd break the 20% mark. People voted le Pen because they're desperate and they want something to happen. Hollande did well, but Sarkozy took a beating. So, in my small area, Sarkozy didn't dry out the FN vote, he fed it and made it possible for traditional conservatives who voted UMP to vote for the FN. This confirms that Hollande has little grip on the working class and must figure something quickly, perhaps with Mélenchon as a bridge to a group that distrusts both PS and UMP.
Guéant just announced the final results: Hollande 27%, Sarkozy 26,7%

Anonymous said...

Hollande's reserve only won't be enough if Sarkozy's is greater and I don't think it is. More than 2/3 of the far right and he should lose the centre right. Today's polls for the second round have Hollande winning and this time they can't be distorted by embarrassment about voting for Le Pen. ~ squiggle from a Kindle

Anonymous said...

Three debates? Why 3 and not 2 or 4? Sure there'd be enough topics to cover but they've basically got 10 days only, not sure how that can be organized?
To copy American-style campaigning? But we've got several weeks (don't we have 3 or 4 over 6 weeks)?

90% Mélenchon voters would vote for Hollande, 3% for Sarkozy (????)
33% Bayrou voters would vote for Hollande, 32% voters would vote for Sarkozy, 35% did not answer.


"Hollanchon" says Wauquiez to say Hollande will be a leader on the extreme, Mélenchon's puppet - even though Mélenchon clearly said he wouldn't make any deal in exchange for his support.

Anonymous said...

Hollande's reserve only won't be enough if Sarkozy's is greater and I don't think it is. More than 2/3 of the far right and he should lose the centre right. Today's polls for the second round have Hollande winning and this time they can't be distorted by embarrassment about voting for Le Pen. ~ squiggle from a Kindle

Anonymous said...

Hollande's reserve only won't be enough if Sarkozy's is greater and I don't think it is. More than 2/3 of the far right and he should lose the centre right. Today's polls for the second round have Hollande winning and this time they can't be distorted by embarrassment about voting for Le Pen. ~ squiggle from a Kindle

Cincinna said...

Debates can only benefit the French people. Giving people in a democracy the chance to hear the candidates debate face à face and then make their choice is the right thing to do.
Besides, those who appear weak or scared, do not inspire confidence in their leadership. Chickens don't win elections!

Anonymous said...

@Cincinna:
I'm not talking about the debates being interesting or not (basically I think debates are good), just why 3? I can imagine one per week, but 3 in such a short time, is it even feasible? For the "no debate" TV special before the first round, one week was necessary to organize just the one program... And the rules require complete silence from Friday till Sunday evening!
As for calling Sarkozy or Hollande "chicken" over this issue, erm.

bernard said...

Hollande has already answered the several debates question prior to the first round. There will be one debtae, period. He is not a man to contradict himself.

bernard said...

I find it remarquable that everyone seems to wonder how Sarkozy will force Hollande to do this or that, when the reality is that Sarkozy is in a position where he will have to campaign towards Le Pen and Bayrou if he wants to have a single chance of making it and that is a most uncomfortable position.

I do not change my forecast of a comfortable Hollande win.

bernard said...

in fact, the single most convincing proof that le pen's party must be kept on the outside is this polling institute fact: electors know perfectly well that they are not voting for a democratic party and are still trying to hide it. Think about it.

FrédéricLN said...

"the actual center, represented by Bayrou, is much diminished."

Yes. The center held, after all - this 9% level is higher than all pre-campaign polls and of course higher that all expectations of our opponents.

But held at so low a level, that the center has now much of a political weakness, rather than a political strength.

Our question is: what was all that for?

Of course, the Greens at 2% might think that four times more than we would. But they reached that low level precisely because they sold their voice before the campaign, for the price of some "députés" seats, that they will have, and we will probably not. Even Bayrou's own seat is seriously threatened, imho.

Thinking that Bayrou had the highest approbation score (as a person and for his agenda) of all candidates, that Bayrou had the highest vote potential (% of people saying they might vote for him), that he made no major mistake during the campaign, that he was given some place by the media, that his campaign constantly raised at least some popular attention (read for example http://vidberg.blog.lemonde.fr/2012/04/21/une-journee-avec-francois-bayrou/ ) — and also we militants in the street could feel this approbation and esteem — "tout ça pour ça"! The outcome is : termination planned. (I mean: termination of the democratic movement as a political strength in France. As physical persons, we stay alive and keep our freedom of thought and speech!).

Anonymous said...

@bernard: you're right!
People are still ashamed - sort of a good sign?
But I'm kind of wondering whether they told pollsters they'd vote Mélenchon but ended up voting for Le Pen (to explain the discrepancy: -4 for one, +3 for the other).

Still, I think Sarkozy is going to do what Cincinna did and say "chicken" if Hollande doesn't change his mind. I'm wondering whether TV channels can even organize 3 debates in such a short time but it'll be his way to say that Hollande is not ready to be president.

bernard said...

FredericLN,

I understand your disappointment, but it was always going to be that way: a French presidential election leaves no room for centrists, period. Bayrou keeps running in the wrong election and can only do terribly as a result. He might do well in the UK or Germany, given their election setup, but in France, forget it. It is as if a swimming champion tried to run the 100 yards race, he'd have no chance at all.

bernard said...

Of course Sarkozy will say chicken. It will be fun to hear and will reinforce his image as a schoolyard bully. Hollande will not yield and will contrast his attitude with the schoolyard bully.

Cincinna said...

I think you are on to something.
Sarkozy Is a superior, void excellent debator; he can debate Hollande on all issued at a moment's notice, Hollande needs weeks to prepare.
Why not compromise at two debates? Risking everything on one debate is dangerous for Hollande, whom even his own party sees as unprepared and weak. That way, Hollande won't risk the Giscard-
Mitterrand debacle in 1981 where the election was lost by a terrible debate performance.

bernard said...

Cincinna
you don't seem to realize that Hollande has made a whole career out of being underestimated by his friends and opponents, very much like Helmut Kohl had done.

Elsewhere, if you were answering to my post, you misunderstood. I am saying that there will be one debate, period. The time when people were running after Sarkozy is over. People will be running after Hollande now, and watching UMP disintegrate once the glue of fear goes will be interesting.

FrédéricLN said...

@ bernard: I understand your analysis and I'm sure many observers will share it.

We are nevertheless ;-) disappointed because:

1) it's the second lowest score of all presidential races for the center (we had candidates in 1965, 1969, 2002 and 2007), let alone candidates supported by the center and a part of the right (1974, 1981, 1988, 1995) ;

2) for this minority I belong to — a minority that believes that the right's and the left's agendas pave the way for social, economic and ecological bankruptcy, your sentence "a French presidential election leaves no room for centrists, period" (which implies the same for the "législatives" election) means "the French (Vth Republic) Constitution leaves no hope for escaping bankruptcy", which is a bitter thought. True, the figures suggest that… ( http://www.debateco.fr/une-majorite-de-cigales ).

Cincinna said...

@Bernard
Hollande has been "underestimated" because he underwhelms! As many observers, like Le Point, reported, in his speech he seems flustered by his emotion, and intimidated.
Your claim that Hollande holds the cards is debatable. 
It was obvious sur le plateau de France2 that it was the PS with its back against the wall and on the defensive. 
  Hollande, and the people who speak for him have so far refused to answer questions about campaign promises he made to various groups. He got away with it during the 1er tour. Will he be able avoid a direct answer to the following & fess up to:
• giving immigrants (non citizens the right to vote)
• allowing municipal facilities like swimming pools and tennis courts to conform to sharia law, separating females from males, having separate hours, etc. 
• Will Hollande uphold his promises to the Ecologists/greens to eliminate all nuclear power in France, in the next ten years, starting immediately. Considering that France gets 80+% of its energy from
nuclear and is now an exporter of energy, thus proposal is ridiculous.

Art Goldhammer said...

Sharia law! Really! Harvard's swimming pools have hours when women can swim alone, and I wasn't aware that sharia had anything to do with it. Some women prefer it that way, and I would think that the French Right, which sees itself as the defender of Muslim women who do not wish to be veiled, might respect their wishes in swimming as well. As for bizarre emotions, I rather thought that Sarkozy's supporters chanting "on a gagné!" when he had underperformed all other sitting presidents was rather startling compared with Hollande's quiet and dignified acceptance of the challenge of being in the final round.