Sunday, April 22, 2012

What Will Become of the UMP?

Mediapart may be making the wish father to the thought:
Le Front national a presque doublé son nombre de voix depuis 2007 ! L’étape suivante, à l’occasion des législatives de juin, sera sans doute de provoquer l’éclatement de l’UMP.

Rue89 Is Less Worried Than I Am

See here:

Aucun scénario ne donne Sarkozy gagnant

Nous avons généreusement accordé 50% des voix du premier tour de Bayrou à Sarkozy contre seulement 20% à Hollande et 30% d’abstention (alors que les derniers sondages montraient que l’électorat centriste se divisait en trois tiers à peu près égaux entre ces trois positions).
Nous avons encore attribué au Président sortant 60% des votes lepénistes (45% dans la dernière enquête Ipsos), 10% votant Hollande et 30% d’abstention. Le report des autres électorat de gauche a été limité à 80%.
Malgré toutes ces conditions, Hollande l’emporterait, dans cette simulation basée sur les résultats effectifs du premier tour, avec 50,7% des voix. C’est dire si le vote du 22 avril annonce une victoire, sans doute large, du candidat socialiste le 6 mai.

Le report des voix lepenistes

Via Greg Brown:

From Rue89

L'institut CSA donne lui aussi son estimation des reports de voix de Marine Le Pen : 52% vers Sarkozy, 27% vers Hollande, 21% qui ne se prononcent pas. Rappel : chez TNS Sofrès, 45% Sarkozy, 29% Hollande et 26% ne se prononcent pas. Chez Ipsos, 60% Sarkozy, 18% Hollande, 22% ne se prononcent pas.


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.

Random Thoughts

We thought we had seen la droitisation dure of Sarkozy's campaign, but the results suggest that he will have to veer even further to the extreme right if he hopes to win. He must win over Le Pen's voters, and clearly they're not going to be easy to get. The large underestimation of the Le Pen vote by the polls suggests that Hollande's lead in round 2 is not as comfortable as it might appear. And the Mélenchon phenomenon seems to have been significantly overestimated: his total is less than the sum of the votes of the extreme left parties he decimated.

As much as I dislike Mélenchon, I had hoped that his supporters would provide Hollande with a comfortable reserve. At 15, this would have been the case; at 11, it isn't. And the Le Pen vote is obviously very difficult to interpret. The pollsters all underestimated, as usual. We therefore can't trust their estimates of the likely report des voix. If I were Hollande, I would be pleased to have come in first but very, very worried about the next two weeks and about what tactics Sarkozy might now employ in the debate. Immigration will obviously be THE hot-button issue, despite France's low actual immigration rate.

As for the Mélenchonistes who have enjoyed the disarray of us "social liberals," I can only say that populist passions, as we see, can blow from the right as well as the left.

First Round Results

FH 28.4 NS 25.5 MLP 20 JLM 11

The big turnout seems to have favored Le Pen above all, and the Right is now in a stronger position than one might have thought. Hollande's lead is unprecedented for a challenger to a sitting president, but Mélenchon is weaker than thought, and that will hurt Hollande in Round 2.

Turnout Higher Than Expected

Le Monde: 1er tour de l'élection présidentielle : 70,59 % de participation à 17 h (ministère de l'intérieur)

This means that the ultimate turnout will probably be close to 80%, much higher than expected. Could this upset polling predictions? Possibly. But there's no point speculating. We'll know soon enough. Certainly the #RadioLondres reports that I've been seeing don't suggest an upset, but who knows how reliable how any of the supposed leaks are?

"Anesthetized" Markets

Gavyn Davies notes, rightly, that global securities markets have decoupled from the eurozone crisis. As the graph shows, peripheral eurozone bond spreads have increased even as global equities have risen. Investors may be in for a rude shock as it becomes clearer that austerity cannot continue and political unrest blocks the technocrats' attempt to decide unilaterally who will bear the heaviest burdens.

Pictorial Election Essay

Here. (h/t Myos)


If you're on Twitter and want to amuse yourself with clever "legal" pre-reporting of election results, follow the hashtag #RadioLondres. An example:

St. Pierre et Miquelon : Le gouda est à 33.75€ du Kg. La Rolex se négocie à moins de 19€.

Or this:

#RadioLondres Le profil Facebook de Carla vient de passer de mariée à c'est compliqué ?

Disappointed Sarkozystes

A conversation among people who voted for Sarkozy in 2007 but who, for the most part, are disappointed and feel the need for a change.

Election Day

Not much left to say. On s'engage, puis en voit, dixit Napoléon. On verra. It's been an unimpressive campaign, in which the major issues have been avoided rather than confronted. Worse, the mettle of the candidates has not really been tested. It's hard to judge how they think or what they might have up their sleeves, other than effets de manche, which have been abundantly on display. Hollande can do the required platform gesticulations and mimic the histrionics that pass for passion on the hustings, but it's not his natural element. I prefer his quiet quips. Sarko has mastered the whole gamut of public postures, from good-sport affability (watch him laugh at Laurent Gerra imitating him) to fulminating demagogue ("Il ment! Il ment! Il ment!"). Mélenchon is in a class by himself, a relic of another era and useful for imagining what the great revolutionary orators might have sounded like. Le Pen comes and goes, sometimes up to playing her part, at other times looking odd in a suit tailored for her father. And Bayrou remains Bayrou, true to himself, not playing a part, other than the part he has been playing for the past 20 years, the virgin who has somehow wandered into a bordello and is shocked to discover what goes on there.

It's a democratic spectacle and as such an accurate reflection of the incoherent nation in which some of you live and which I observe--and no more or less incoherent than my own. It's a spectacle that is no doubt destined to disappoint me, since politics lacks the neatness of a theorem and I have a mathematical cast of mind, but this year the disappointment is particularly acute, because I think the stakes are enormously high. The euro crisis is far from resolved, the fate of the EU depends on its resolution, and social pressures are building. Yesterday the Dutch government fell apart, and there will be early elections at the behest of the extreme-right party there. Spain cannot continue in the status quo, with 45% youth unemployment. So something is soon going to give. It probably won't be France that cracks first, but inevitably France will be caught up in the ensuing maelstrom, so it would be reassuring to think that the person in charge knew what he or she was doing. But even a person of the utmost competence would be hard-pressed to know what to do, because the difficulty of the issues far exceeds the powers of the French president, as vast as they are. What is needed is not only the breadth of mind to grasp the situation but the tact, determination, and persuasiveness to get others to see it the same way. I wish I believed that the eventual winner would have those qualities, but I see little evidence that this will be the case. If I were French, I would vote for Hollande, but without much of a sense of what I was getting. It would be a familial duty: my family is the moderate left, and he is definitely a member of the family. But is he the boring uncle who turns up year after year at family gatherings, or the familiar relative whose true genius has been hidden from the view of his kin for all these years? Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre ...