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Focalising attention on the FN is a two-pronged electoral strategy. First, it is one which tries to give those many disappointed rank and file PS members and sympathisers a reason to vote. The logic is "you are disappointed in how we govern, but if you don't vote look which scary people could get in!" While the PS in governing is a failure, this particular strategy, while on the whole not a great one, has had some success, and arguably the PS did better, even though they were badly beathen, then they could have.
Second, there have been polls looking forward to 2017 which would indicate that there is only one way the PS can possibly succeed - and that is in a dream Hollande run-off against Marine Le Pen. The hope being here that a divided centre-right (say, Juppé, Sarkozy and maybe another mainstream right wing candidate could all run with relative strength) could let Hollande squeak through to the second round against Marine Le Pen, with a subsequent "rally for the Republican candidate" push allowing Hollande to remain at the Elysée. A bit of a stretch, but one which none other than Le Monde has talked up, earlier this year, and realistically Hollande's (and the PS in general) only hope as things stand now.
This strategy has parliamentary repurcussions too, as triangular and PS-FN binary run-offs are the PS only possible route to success in a large portion of parliamentary seats which will be up in two years.
One unfortunate side effect of this has been for criticism of the EU and of Maastricht to be relegated to the FN. There are voices on the left with similar criticisms, notably people like Jacques Sapir in academia or François Lafond with a more political background, but no one with a political following much less a movement. A key mistake, in my view, of the Front de Gauche in the 2012 election was to mostly and substantively avoid this subject, choosing instead, like the PS today, to direct attention to the FN's unsavory side rather than that of the EU the FN was attacking, and in so doing giving up to the latter the ideological space which is contesting the single currency as presently constituted. And now we see many of its former voters in 2012 (don't forget, Mélanchon got 11% and the Front de Gauche got 12% in last year's Europeans) these people didn't just go away, though they certainly did not vote in those numbers last week.
Alas, in France if we are to have a political movement come to power which forthrightly contests the prerogatives of the elite which both the UMP and the PS represent, it will come from the populist right.
The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet.
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