Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Rise of Mélenchon

Take a look at the poll comparator and focus on Jean-Luc Mélenchon's recent performance. He's up sharply in all the polls in recent weeks and is now approaching the 11% level. All the papers are repeating the story of Sarkozy's droitisation of his campaign and its success in taking votes from Marine Le Pen. But the real story of Sarko's convergence with Hollande, now confirmed by 3 polls, is that Mélenchon has been taking votes from Hollande. No one would have given him a chance to get 11% a couple of months ago, but there he is, a result of both his own dogged campaigning around the country and Hollande's dispiriting caution. For the second round, it doesn't matter. All, or nearly all, of Mélenchon's votes will go to Hollande by default, although there may be a substantial abstention. But it's a symptom of the listlessness of Hollande's campaign that Mélenchon is evidently peeling off voters who once thought they would go for the Socialist. This isn't a vote of adhesion to the extreme left; it's a protest vote against the Socialists, who aren't meeting the expectations of their rank and file. No surprise there. They haven't been meeting the expectations of the rank and file for decades. But it doesn't bode well for the future in case of a Socialist victory, and centrist voters may be paying attention. The last thing cautious middle-of-the-road types want is a Socialist who doesn't inspire respect in his own camp.


brent said...

Mélenchon's rising totals are, to be sure, a protest against Hollande's feckless campaign, but let's be clear as JLM is clear: his campaign is a campaign against the practices of liberal capitalism. That world-system is in dire straits, and JLM is the one candidate who addresses that fact with any degree of honesty. Like the indignados and the occupiers, his supporters want a radical break with that system, not just a more charismatic center-left candidate. Given the consistency and candor of the FdG's campaign, it seems oddly contrarian to deny that his 11%-and-counting aren't really in favor of his clearly articulated far-left positions.

FrédéricLN said...

Answering to the end of the post:

According to the recent CSA survey ( , p. 19), Bayrou and Mélenchon supporters seem to locate the Hollande agenda around a "center-left", while Hollande supporters locate it at "left".

The main difference might be on the meaning of words. Hollande supporters would define "left" as "taking the wheels of power from the right" ; Bayrou and Mélenchon supporters hope for a definite change agenda — i.e. progressive policies that would prevent us from a Greek/Spanish style national wreck. They may differ on policy options for this (Bayrou supporters believe a strong recovery plan is needed, Mélenchon supporters believe that the wealthy can be denied the right to get their loans reimbursed), and on political options (Bayrou supporters believe that change requires a new coalition instead of corrupt or paralyzed UMP and PS, Mélenchon supporters believe that a strong leftist vote at the 1st turn can influence Hollande as President and prevent him from too many concessions to the wealthy ones).

BTW, according to the same survey (pages 11 and 15) of Mélenchon supporters also consider voting for Bayrou, and 26% of Bayrou supporters also consider voting for Mélenchon. These are not specially high figures (compared to other cross-tabulations of the same kind) but they show minds are not so clear-cut.