Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"Un Sondage Bidonné"

For Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the Harris polls that have everyone talking are worthless. He explains his reasoning at length here. If you pare away the bluster, he even makes a few valid points. But he neglects to say that he has an interest in discrediting the poll, because one effect of a strong FN is to persuade defectors from the PS, tempted to cast a first-round vote for the PG as a protest against the fecklessness of the PS, that they had better return to the fold lest the Left find itself left out of the second round as in 2002. Indeed, one of the complexities of a two-round system for pollsters is that each poll multiplies the opportunities for voters to register "expressive" rather than "instrumental" preferences. That is, it's perfectly possible to intend to vote PS but to say that you're going to vote PG or NPA in order to "send a message" of discontentment to the PS. And the greater the fragmentation of the sample group, the larger the margin of error.

I'd like to comment on one other point that Mélenchon mentions in his blog: Radio J has canceled an invitation to Marine Le Pen at the behest of the CRIF. This is a very bad business. Like it or not, the Front National is now a mainstream political party. Marine Le Pen is not her father and cannot be taxed with the sins of her father. One may suspect all the continuities one wants, but one also has to acknowledge the change in the surface. Jean-Marie mocked les fours crématoires; Marine denounces rather than denies the Holocaust. She has to be confronted head on and debated straight up, not excluded, and certainly not excluded from the airwaves by a Jewish organization. For a religious group to exclude a presidential candidate from the airwaves on the grounds that she is her father's daughter and therefore prima facie guilty of an anti-Semitism she explicitly denies simply cannot be tolerated. Free speech is free speech, and Marine Le Pen has to be faced squarely. On this point, I agree entirely with Mélenchon: the president of the CRIF is "juste quelqu’un qui veut exercer un pouvoir normatif communautaire sur la liberté de parole des autres." This is unacceptable.


bernard said...

Radio J - a radio station operated by the jewish community for those are do not know it - does not exclude MLP from the airwaves. Radio J excludes MLP from their airwaves. There are upwards of 100 radio stations in Paris and, these day, about as many TV stations. Those who want to talk and shake hands with MLP can. I, for one, will not do either and I approve the CRIF.

As for Melenchon's blog, the best part in my view is quite simply Bernard Thibauld's letter. Thibauld as usual has it exactly right in my view. Melenchon's comments on the other hand, while right on the fact that polls have got issues and do on occasion manipulate opinion, ignores a central fact of French politics. Le Pen did arrive in Front of Jospin in 2002, that was an electoral fact and not a poll. In fact he is so keen to bypass that fact that he makes a very interesting freudian lapse when writing about the 2002 second round results: in his sentence, le pen is the one who got 80% of the vote, not Chirac.

So I woud have three questions for him: what if the mainstream socialist candidate was indeed in 3rd place and that was not an artifact of polling ? What if the FN polled extremely well in the Cantonales, as I regretably suspect they will ? Should we prefer a socialist to feature in the second round of the presidential elections or should we prefer an UMP? I suspect that Melenchon is so detached from any tactical political calculation that he will avoid answering any of those three questions, especially the third, until it is too late.

Pierre Guillery said...

Bien dit. Freedom of speech is freedom of speech. No discussion. I have the feeling that most French people have a problem with this notion: to them, there is "freedom of speech for the FN" - and then "freedom of speech for the rest of us". That's plain wrong. This attitude fuels the FN's pitch: "look they keep ostracising us."

Cincinna said...

Sunlight, it is said, is the best disinfectant.
IMO Radio J & other media outlets should give MLP airtime, questioning her intensively on the FN , her father, & why anyone should believe she is not just his clone & puppet, the same old proverbial pig with lipstick.
Censorship is not the answer to extremism. Let her talk. Let people decide for themselves.
In the free open marketplace of ideas, the truth will out.