Friday, March 28, 2014

Did the Front de Gauche Outperform the FN?

Jean-Luc Mélenchon has been arguing, graphiques à l'appui, that the Front de Gauche outperformed the FN in the first round of the municipals:

Le Monde has looked into this and enters a few caveats. It all depends on how you separate the Parti Gauche vote from the PCF vote:
Le graphique ci-dessous représente le « potentiel électoral » de chaque composante, c'est-à-dire le nombre d'électeurs qui avaient la possibilité de voter pour une liste PG, PCF ou FG, et le nombre qui l'ont fait. On le voit, il y a moins de listes PCF, mais elles obtiennent plus de voix que les listes FG, plus nombreuses. Quant au PG, il présente peu de listes autonomes et obtient peu de voix.
Mélenchon and many others are probably right that the media are disproportionately focused on FN gains and unduly ignore the persistence of a substantial number of voters to the left of the PS. He's also correct that the FN did not increase its share of the vote nationwide compared to recent presidential elections. But the left-wing vote persists essentially in places with a long left-wing tradition, whereas the FN has lately established itself in places where it never had a presence before. It is the perception and reality of an expanding FN that accounts for the disproportionate attention (and appropriate alarm). The left of the Left continues to exist, as Mélenchon notes, but it is static, not expanding, and has receded from its previous high-water marks, whereas the FN seems to be attracting new constituencies.