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Narrow views gaining broad appeal in French election

by wchurchill Sat Apr 14th, 2007 at 01:22:48 PM EST

It would be interesting to hear some ET views on aspects of the upcoming election.  Like many of you, I'm sceptical of the presentation of MSM, and would value some insight and discussion here.  

We are seeing articles in English, for example, describing the need for the larger parties to addresss some of the issues raised by Le Pen, that have resonated with some of the French electorate.

"One is the breakdown of social order and crime, and the other is the lack of jobs. And they have become problems that I believe began with immigration. In 1954, when I came here, you could leave a package on the doorstep of the jeweller's shop three hours before it opened. Now you couldn't think of that -- these guys from Africa would steal it in a minute."

<snip>

This message, often described as fascist, has always appealed to the 15 to 20 per cent of French voters who have cast their ballots for the National Front. What is new this year, as more than 40 per cent of voters remain undecided, is that similar words and ideas are suddenly being heard on the lips of respectable presidential candidates from France's mainstream political parties.<snip>

This message, often described as fascist, has always appealed to the 15 to 20 per cent of French voters who have cast their ballots for the National Front. What is new this year, as more than 40 per cent of voters remain undecided, is that similar words and ideas are suddenly being heard on the lips of respectable presidential candidates from France's mainstream political parties.

It's certainly understandable that the mainstream parties would need to somehow address this issue, given Le Pen's surprising success in the 2002 election, where he finished in the top two, and moved to the next round.  The article goes on to describe an example of the response of the Socialist Party

Ms. Royal has shocked the Socialist rank-and-file by introducing National Front-style ideas: Boot camp for immigrant youth, mandatory singing of the Marseillaise and a focus on crime as a cultural problem.
and then an example of a response from the UMP:
Nicolas Sarkozy, the presidential candidate from the moderate right-wing UMP (Union for a Popular Movement) party and the man favoured by most polls to win the election, has in many ways changed his course even more dramatically.

In a break from the strict French unity of his colleague, current President Jacques Chirac, he had declared that France is a racist country and vowed to introduce affirmative-action laws for employers, a suggestion that had previously been unthinkable in France.

It would be interesting to hear some perspective from those in France and others watching the election closely.  To what extent are the points raised real issues among the French electorate--the article seems to focus on crime, racism and maybe the need for more patriotism (?) (I'm thinking of the "mandatory singing of the Marseillaise and a focus on crime as a cultural problem." and "France is a racist country and vowed to introduce affirmative-action laws for employers" comments from the two leading candidates.)


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The french presidential election is mostly focused on candidate personality not programs, and I'd add poll of the day for this election more than any other before.

Latest polls http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-823448,36-896340@51-841384,0.html

  • CSA 10 april shows NS 26 / SR 23 / FB 21 / JMLP 15, second round  NS 51 / SR 49.

  • IFOP 13 april show NS 28 / SR 24 / FB 18 / JMLP 13 and second round NS 53 / SR 47.

Since JMLP vote is pretty hard to evaluate for pollsters, we have a configuration were 4 candidates have a real chance of getting to the second round.

I'd add that there were an exceptional amount of new voters (young and french abroad), plus a "woman" factor so it should be even harder for pollsters...

If you read french here is a blog-fiction of 22 april:

http://dinersroom.free.fr/index.php?2007/04/11/429-le-22-avril-soiree-electorale-du-premier-tour-fic tion-2

by Laurent GUERBY on Sat Apr 14th, 2007 at 04:47:12 PM EST
Heh... I loved that blog-fiction...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Apr 14th, 2007 at 05:59:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
we have a configuration were 4 candidates have a real chance of getting to the second round. absolutely. I wouldn't be surprised by any of the top four getting through.

Why? First of all, from the point of view of both method and history, French polls are really unreliable for the first round of a presidential election. Historically, the first-round results in every presidential election going back 20 years were to a lesser or greater degree a stunner: Mitterand's strong first-round showing (well ahead of both Chirac and Barre) in 88, Jospin ahead and Chirac barely qualifying in 95, and of course 2002. Methodologically, the use of "reprsentative samples" that are adjusted (instead of random sample) makes these really unreliable (and do not allow for calculation of margin of error). A great story in Le Monde 2 days ago pointed out that in raw data, LePen draws about 6% and Royal is consistently ahead, but the forumlae for "redressement" are what keeps putting Sarkozy out front. And look at today's #s: CSA has Royal inching up on Sarko and Bayrou falling back, another (Ifop?) has Bayrou almost even with Royal.

I do think the "Le Pen" effect might be less this time, only because there is less stigma, but there is a big question of whether or not the roughly 6% of the electorate that describes itself as "close" to the FN but is supporting Sarkozy in polls will stay there. Sarkozy is pushing hard, hard for those voters -- look at his final, extended spot which is all about how immigrants need to love France (by the way all the spots are available on dailymotion; check out www.dailymotion.com/davidBRUEL).

But, to return to the original post, it is very important to keep in mind -- and often ignored by the foreign press -- that this is the 2nd campaign that LePen has had very little to say about immigration. His ads are terrifyingly terrific -- one in which he capitalizes on reports of the government manipulating unemployment figures to claim to incarnate truth; another in which he defends French agriculture from the EU; and another in which he mocks Sarkozy and Royal for "running behind him" in their attempt to make use of the flag to show their patriotism.  Very few of LePen's voters vote for him because of his position on immigration; indeed, its only by playing down the "France aux francais" aspect (which remains implicit) that he moved from his presumed 10-12% ceiling. A lot of LePen's appeal is his willingness to shock the press, by saying things like calling Royal's children "bastards", that give him the aura of a straight-shooter.

Finally, the "new voter" and "woman" points are, based on recent American electoral history, fools gold; newly registered voters tend to vote in much lower proportion than the rest of the electorate, and only when the issue environment warrants it do center-right women cross over to vote for a center-left female candidate. The "woman" factor usually manifests itself earlier, when it makes it harder for opponents to attack a woman without seeming over the top, a temptation and trap that to this point Sarkozy has, astonishingly and frustratingly for the PS, avoided.

Looking forward to this week, I will be eager to see how Rocard's call for a PS/UMP alliance plays out. I think it is too late to pull it together (but maybe not) and I fear that PS leaders, sensing Royal's demise, may prefer to have the "old house" to fight for afterwards than create the "big bang" that would result from such an alliance. But, if it were to work out in any way (and it would necessarily result from a Bayrou-Sarkozy 2nd round), it will be historic because it would mean the end of the PCF -- whom the PS would abandon for the legislatives, deprving the Communists of the seats they need to form a group and thus of their primary source of funding at the national level.

What do others think?

by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Sun Apr 15th, 2007 at 12:07:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Kouchner has joined Rocard and on the "independent" socialist blogs (Liberation, DSK) more than half of the voices wonder when DSK makes the same move.

As I have pointed out previously here (and been half-flamed for) Sego doesn't stand a chance in a final round against Sarko. Even if the far left supports her she can maximally gather 40% of the vote. The 20% supporting Bayrou won't vote for her, they will go fishing.

If the social-democrats have a minimum of guts they should appeal for a Bayrou vote before the 22nd. That would ensure DSK and Kouchner into key posts in a Bayrou government and save the responsible left.

If they don't the split will happen anyway after the election of Sarko. Which means 5 lost years.

by oldfrog on Sun Apr 15th, 2007 at 02:26:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The campaign has been dragged to the right by Nicolas  Sarkozy, because:

  1. he believes he needs far-right voters to be able to win;

  2. by focussing on immigration and law 'n' order (and implicitly linking the two) he keeps the media noise away from topics like social and economic problems, where Royal is perceived as stronger than him.

Frankly, I didn't like Royal's initial reaction much. It was to show that she too could speak of the nation and its symbols, that they were not the political property of the far right, so I suppose, in that sense, it was fair enough. However, I think she has more to gain from insisting on social and economic problems.

The bit you quote from the Globe and Mail, though, is more than slanted, it's false:

Ms. Royal has shocked the Socialist rank-and-file by introducing National Front-style ideas: Boot camp for immigrant youth, mandatory singing of the Marseillaise and a focus on crime as a cultural problem.

Boot camp for immigrant youth? Nonsense. Neither "boot camp" nor "immigrant" (which is a shocking short-cut taken by the journalist). Here is Royal's proposal:


Mettre en oeuvre des solutions nouvelles pour extraire les mineurs de la délinquance : suppression des peines de prison pour les mineurs en dehors des cas d'atteintes graves aux personnes ; développement des centres éducatifs renforcés, si besoin avec un encadrement militaire.

Set new solutions working to get minors out of delinquency : abolish prison sentences for minors except in cases of very serious violence to persons; develop reinforced educational centres, with military training personnel if need be.

Her idea (not gladly accepted, it is true, by everyone on the left) is to stop sending juveniles to prison and to send them instead to special education units that may call on military personnel. This has nothing to do with "boot camp", and the association "immigrant youth" = "crime" is exactly typical of the mindset developed by the Front National - it has apparently rubbed off on the journalist.

Mandatory singing of the Marseillaise - what does this mean? To read it, you'd think Royal might be lining up the French before breakfast to make them sing the national anthem. She certainly spoke with approval of singing the Marseillaise, but I'm not aware of any proposition to make it compulsory...

a focus on crime as a cultural problem : I don't know what he's referring to. Royal's proposals (see page linked to above) see crime in a social, economic, and educational context. The racists say, first, crime and immigration go together; second, crime is part of "their" culture (black, Arab, etc). Clearly Royal has suggested nothing of this nature.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 15th, 2007 at 05:49:22 AM EST


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