An American observer comments on French politics.
There is no rational explanation for the surge in popularity for Mélenchon. It is the usual ras-le-bol gauchiste, hardly distinguishable from le ras-le-bol lepeniste. On the EU, "neo-liberalism", NATO, Russia, the two candidates are Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum. A bouquiniste told me the other day that he would be voting for Mélenchon. I asked him why as I handed over ten euros for René Rémond's classic Les Droites en France. Ras-le-bol, said he.
The most fascinating part in this is 'people of the right' who would vote for Melenchon. The two reasons I gathered are 'bang fist on table ala sarkozy' and 'beautiful use of the language '. I have inklings those are voters Fillon is counting on, so that when faced with the actual prospect of voting for the dreaded left they'll switch to reason and vote for him. I feel bad for Benoit Hamon, because voters on the left are choosing Melenchon as a sort of 'vote utile de gauche'. Traditional Melenchon voters would likely say something akin to 'what goes around comes around'.I've finally made up my mind that since I can vote, I'll cast iron for halon - not because I feel bad for him, but first for his speech on 'vous etes LA France ' which was courageous in a campaign where immigrants when talked about ate systematically presented as problems, but most importantly because I do think that Hamon is the only one who's caught on to the magnitude of disruptions automation and AI will bring. I know he'll score very low, but while his solutions are imperfect, they grapple with something that hasn't been part of French discourse till February and that must enter it fully. If you read the US press/us blogs, watch CNN or business channels, it's been part of the American discourse for at least a year and a half, if not two years. I was flabbergasted when French news 'discovered' around February that '10%' current jobs 'could' disappear because of automation. They've been reporting on this with increasing regularity since then, but it's only been two weeks the concept has seemed to really sink in for the French mainstream media as far as I can tell. In the second round, I'll have no qualms voting for Macron. I believe he'll be the next president, whoever he faces. (myos)
Another element that will add to nail biting : whoever planned the elections calendar was out of touch with French families ' calendar : ALL families with school age children will be on 'holidays ' on April 23, along with teachers and people with RTT To use before May first. And, unpredictably but adding to the mix, the weather's worthy of June. Sure, not all people 'go see family's or 'go to the beach '. But so far in the past few days I've heard of FIVE people who freaked out when they realized they had booked their rental/holiday for April 22-29. They're all in the 'highly educated'group that follows the elections and they immediately set out to get a 'procuration', a form that allows someone to cast a vote for them, since you can't vote early and you can't mail in your vote (!!!! :0 ??!?) But how many people will realize this on the 20th, when it's too late to get the paper? Also, the person casting your vote must vote in the exact same place as you, so that our of the five, three have not yet found anyone. The others had to dedicate several days hunting a reliable 'substitute voter' down.
@anonymousUnfortunately there is very little leaway on deciding the date of presidential elections, let alone the length of the presidential mandate. Pompidou is 100% guilty on this one. This is of course unfortunate as I would have liked Hollande to enjoy the fruits of his policies which are coming now with rapid employment growth etc. as President. Unfortunately he will only be vindicated as a former President.
@anonymous -- not quite. One zone (B) goes back to school on April 24 so lots of people will be back from holidays already and zone C (Paris and its environs, Toulouse and Montpellier) are all back from holidays next week so will have no problem voting in the first round. It's the second round that mystifies me -- the Sunday before a Monday bank holiday (May 8th)? It's ridiculous.
@Art : un excellent résumé des derniers épisodes, congratulations!
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