An American observer comments on French politics.
As I have stated in previous posts, this has been Hollande's strategy all along. Although Hollande was hoping for a second round runoff with Marine Le Pen, he would never make it to round 2. So, his strategy has been to throw everything but the kitchen sink at Sarkozy and hope something sticks. So far nothing has, and it looks more and more like a vendetta each time. I think "le pacte Républicain" is dead in the water as an election strategy for the Socialists. It seems most people will not vote for Hollande, even against MLP. That brings us to the other scenario. Sarkozy has been playing the press like a fiddle, and has been honing his international relationships and diplomatic credentials visiting world leaders and being received as a head of state. Sarkozy's phone calls definitely get returned. Whether one agrees or not with him politically, one must concede he is the consummate political animal, possibly the best politician of his generation. I would never underestimate MLP and her odious father, who is really running the show. The FN, de-diabolisé ou non, is still the FN. She has proven an able, albeit traditional politician, not particularly dynamic or creative. Will the French vote for yet another totally inexperienced person, with no demonstrated leadership ability or experience, and no diplomatic or foreign policy international experience? I don't think do. I don't think we will have seen the last of MLP, but as long as her father is still alive, she will not get far. She couldn't even put a coalition together in the European Parliament. She has not spoken out on the issues facing France at home, the violence against Jews and synagogues in France, and the re-emergence of vicious anti-semitism, so out in the open, it is no longer under the guise of anti-Zionism, just blatant old fashioned Jew hatred. On all this, MLP and the FN has been totally silent. It is a long way off to 2017, but historically, there is no comeback from the low polling numbers of Hollande. Break out the popcorn, it's going to be a very long 2 1/2 years.
You said it, 3 years before an election polls are worthless, well almost, they still are manipulative and allow all sorts of hare-brained ideas to grow at the Café du Commerce and encourage the vulgum pecus to focus on people issues rather than focus on programs or ideas... Add the 24/24h, 365/365 days political sitcom and storytelling in the media and blogosphere and you can celebrate the triumph of the Société du Spectacle. May I recommend to those who haven't read it the beautiful novel "La lucidité"(2004) by Prix Nobel de Litterature portuguese writer José Saramago. "La lucidité" ("Seeing" in english) tells a story set in the same country featured in "Blindness" and begins with a parliamentary election in which the vast majority of the populace casts blank ballots. The story revolves around the struggles of the government and its various members as they try to simultaneously understand and destroy the amorphous non-movement of blank-voters.
I also saw this poll a few days back, and brushed it-off. As you said it, 3-years in advance it's just worthless. However, as days pass-by, I'm getting more pessimistic about the outcomes of this future election.I'm just back from a week-end in my childhood village. Voters are mostly conservatives, so unfortunately sympathy for the FN is nothing new (2002 Elections: 1st round JMLP first with 26% of the votes, Chirac second with 14.5% of the votes; Second round: 30% for JMLP). These score are in-line with the rest of the region.When 1/3rd of people around you are FN voters, you are bound to be exposed to more-or-less subtle racist talks. Over time, you also learn from whom to expect such views, and to which degree (i.e. slight affinity vs. outright propaganda).My various encounters and reunions this week-end left me dismayed.The usual FN voters are still there and louder than usual (I had someone explaining me that he had been happy from moving into his new house, that it was a good place where "all the neighbors get along, we are all racists" !?!)I'll never get used to this, but it wasn't unexpected coming from that person. However, I was shocked when I realized that the FN ideas were spreading to previously moderate voters. I even had a relative, and long time abstentionist, conservative but open-minded, whose usual rant about politicians being "tous pourris" (same speech since Mitterrand-era), now includes arguments about "immigration subie" vs "immigration choisie".What came out from a lot of these discussions, more than open racism, was a deafening rejection of the existing political elite.I'd like to convince myself that this is only anecdotal, that at a macro level all is better. But unfortunately I think that these are local signs of a country-wide trend. Unless the economy turns around within 3 years, the FN will score historically high.
To be more positive, I'll be anecdotal at the macro level too: before the last election, our neighbours, conservative retired shopkeepers, who do not really like to see all these blacks and arabs "on our welfare", came to ask us to vote for them, as they had to be away from Paris on that day.I shuddered a bit, not wanting to cast a vote for Le Pen or Sarkozy, and not really for Hollande, but they told us to vote for whoever we wanted, as long as it wasn't Le Pen. This cheered me, to see these aged and ill people bothering to go through the administrative hassle of getting us the right to vote for them, just to do their part in stopping Le Pen. So we agreed we would give their vote to the UDI (I always liked Bayrou).Mélanie (an habitual Besancenot / Laguillier / Mélanchon voter)
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