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French presidential elections 2017: First Round

by Bernard Mon Apr 10th, 2017 at 08:09:56 PM EST

With two weeks to go until the first round, the Presidential contest has entered the official phase: since this Monday, the media are obliged by law to give equal time to each and every candidate, regardless of notoriety, or big party backing her or him. Each candidate will also have the opportunity to air their own 15 minutes segments for free on public TV.

For instance, Philipe Poutou, a factory car worker at a Ford Motor Company plant near Bordeaux,  running for the Trotskyst "New Antcapitalist Party", will get the same air time on national television than the other candidates like Macron, Fillon or Le Pen.

Since my first diary, the race for the coveted second round runoff on May 7 has been led by Le Pen and Macron in the polls. The recent developments seem to be Macron's support tapering off, but still keeping in the same range as Le Pen, with Mélenchon clearly rising over Hamon, the official PS candidate that many PS officials are openly betraying.

The scandal ridden Fillon is still polling several points behind the two front runners and about level with Mélenchon. But no matter what, even though this looks like "a four horse race" (to quote eurogreen), there's only room for two in the second round. So who will they be?

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

We have to be careful with the polls, for the usual reasons (failed to predict Brexit or Trump), but also for more specific factors in France.

The polls didn't see Fillon winning the right wing primary last November, until the last days: however, this was the first time such primaries were run in France and it was difficult for the pollsters to "adjust" their model due to the lack of previous comparable elections.

The French pollsters have also been notorious for under-counting Le Pen voters. Then again, there are several previous elections where the Front National has gathered a large share of the votes and there are more "precedents" to compare with. Also, it would be good to disregards the polls with less than a 1000 sample size.

The other unknown: the 18-24 voters didn't vote five years ago in 2012; how will they vote (or not) in two weeks?

This election is quite "peculiar" in that it is quite possible that no one of the two historical main parties, the PS and LR (or whatever their name is those days) will make it to the second round.

Again, because this situation is unprecedented, it makes any prevision even more difficult. Getting a majority at the parliament next June will also become a crucial question, and probably a major debate point before the second round: If Macron is elected, he intends to run candidates from his own En Marche movement, with support from Bayrou and probably a large number of people from the PS and LR.

As for Le Pen, she only has two MPs today but has been clearly aiming at enlarging her base by luring conservative voters who may be unhappy with Fillon.

In less than two weeks, we'll know who's in for the second round.

Great lead in:
there's only room for two in the second round. So who will they be?

And then the let down at the end...

In less than two weeks, we'll know who's in for the second round.

I could have told you that! Clickbait Journalism?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Apr 11th, 2017 at 02:47:07 PM EST
If this is clickbait, it was totally unconscious, unless this is my subconscious playing tricks on me...

The facts remains: all the polls have been telling us this is going to be a Le Pen/Macron run-off, and this for a month and a half now.

Then again, what the polls predicted and what came out on election day has been shown to sometimes quite different (Brexit & Trump being the prime examples), so caveat emptor more than ever.

One thing I Really wanted to highlight is that this election is really quite different from the previous, well-known and well formatted, PS vs. LR (or PS vs. UMP) of the past decades, even though one might argue (as Le Pen does) that Macron is sort of a Hollande plant.

As trite as it may seem, we have never seen this before since the onset of the Fifth Republic, which may explain the relatively high number of undecided voters.

by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Apr 11th, 2017 at 06:27:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was clickbaiting in jest!  

It is precisely the high numbers of undecided who could yet prove the polls wrong. Are there any indications how they lean? Will they vote in large numbers or at all?  Are they ex-PS/LR voters dissatisfied with their parties or candidates who will eventually hold their noses and vote for their traditional parties/candidates anyway?

Are there any indications if there will be a high or a low turnout?  I suspect a low turnout would help Le Pen and perhaps Melenchon most, and those with a better party organisation. Is the general mood for change or the status quo?  Is there a big urban/rural divide? Is Immigration as big an issue as elsewhere? How will the terrorist atrocities influence the vote?  Who is posing as the law and order candidate?

How much anti-EU/Euro sentiment is there? Is Brexit an issue, and if so, how would that effect the vote? I would expect a Pro-EU candidate like Macron to have made Brexit an issue, blame all the ills of the EU on the English and promise reform once they are gone. How credible would this be as a political strategy?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Apr 11th, 2017 at 07:14:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All interesting questions for sure, but some are quite hard to answer:

  • No, there's no indication as to how undecided voters will lean to in the end, and they might end up not voting at all.

  • Dissatisfied ex-PS/LR voters have plenty of options: PS voters can go for Mélenchon or Macron, LR voters can vote for Le Pen or, yes, Macron (remember that Bayrou and the traditional "Christian Democrats" types are supporting Macron, Fillon being too extreme for them).

  • Turnout is not expected to be particularly high and, all in all, it's hard to feel much excitement among most French voters, favoring the status quo types, I suppose.

  • There is indeed a big territorial divide: I've already mentioned the series by demographer Hervé le Bras - only in French, sorry :-) This analysis of the Le Pen vote in 2012 is quite telling 'second map in the article body). The FN vote is concentrated is the North, the North-Eastern regions and the Mediterranean coasts (ironically, the Le Pen family hails from Brittany). More to the point, it is mostly outside the big metropolitan areas; in short, the typical FN area is a small or medium sized town, with poverty and crime rates actually lower than within big cities, but mostly characterized by a lack of future prospects for the local economy.

  • Immigration is not much of an issue and actually much less mentioned than you would have thought. Even Le Pen is focusing on attacking Macron, Hollande and the EU. Terrorism is totally absent from the debate and the Law & Order candidate should be Valls, but he's not running; so then, Fillon (oh, wait...)

  • EU sentiment? Frexit has never polled more than 30-35% at most. This is a plank of Le Pen program, of course and also Mélenchon (under some conditions) and some smaller candidates, but that is about all.

  • As for Brexit, sorry to disappoint: it is completely absent of the debate (this is about France after all, not the UK).
by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Apr 11th, 2017 at 08:04:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most interesting elections in France in years - but the world hardly seems to notice that also in France 'disruptive' politics has now come to the fore...

Could turn into a real nailbiter. I sort of like the idea of a resurgence of left old geezers - though I still struggle to see Mélenchon making it to the second round. But we'll see. The field is still open.

by Bjinse on Wed Apr 12th, 2017 at 09:30:23 AM EST
Any thoughts on vote utile dynamics? Will Hamon now leak support towards Mélenchon and Macron? Will Fillon supporters vote for Macron to pre-empty Mélenchon?

And, looking ahead, how will the legislative elections play out if Mélenchon gets third or better and Hamon gets at most fifth?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 12th, 2017 at 02:35:00 PM EST
Will Hamon now leak support towards Mélenchon and Macron?

Already happened, bigly: this is a good part of the Mélenchon surge and, on the other - "social-liberal" - end, several PS leaders (starting with Valls who broke his pledge) are openly supporting Macron, leaving Hamon bled from both sides.

The législatives in June are another game entirely: this is where you need nation wide party structure support to pull it, like the PS or LR.

As I have argued, the main focus will be for the newly elected president to get a majority to support him or her, and there's little chance for Hamon or Fillon to make it...

The first effect of the presidential election might very well be an implosion, not of the PS or the LR, or both.

The FN has always struggled to find enough candidates, and some of them have been too obviously moron. Macron claims he'll run candidates under his own En Marche movement label, but he'll likely get support from Bayrou, some PS who already support him, especially if Hamon is soundly beaten, and possibly some "moderate" LR.

by Bernard (bernard) on Wed Apr 12th, 2017 at 06:22:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you so sure Fillon could not get a majority?

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sat Apr 15th, 2017 at 08:46:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When I wrote "to make it", I meant: "to the presidency", as there are few chances that either of them may qualify for the second round next Sunday.

Obviously, if one of them (or any LR or PS candidate for that matter) were to be elected president, the dynamic of the subsequent législatives elections would likely carry a majority from the same party: this is pretty much what happened for all legislative elections that immediately followed a presidential election in the past forty years.

by Bernard (bernard) on Sun Apr 16th, 2017 at 03:57:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Someone on Twitter pointed out that state funding for presidential elections is tied to getting 5% of the vote. So if Hamon drops out the PS is in trouble.
by generic on Thu Apr 13th, 2017 at 05:47:33 AM EST
The PS is in trouble already: five years of Hollande presidency where he did pretty much the opposite of what he campaigned for in 2012, culminating with this splintered election campaign where many PS leaders (including Hollande) are more or less openly supporting Macron against Hamon have driven many voters towards Mélenchon. Money or not, the PS won't emerge intact.
by Bernard (bernard) on Thu Apr 13th, 2017 at 06:47:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Granted, but I was more thinking of how that would play within the party. Who gets to own the corpse of the PS is one of the interesting questions this election poses.
by generic on Fri Apr 14th, 2017 at 03:06:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The outcome is not getting any clearer.
The polls give Le Pen and Macron around 22-23, and Mélenchon and Fillon around 19-20. All within the margin of error, and of course people lie to pollsters, and more than anything, the number of undecided voters and of intending abstainers are at record highs.

So they are testing all six possible second round matches, and this is what you get :

One way of looking at it is that we've got a 50% chance of Macron, 33% chance of Mélenchon, and 17% chance of Fillon.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Apr 16th, 2017 at 03:51:34 PM EST
With one week to go before the first round, the French media is now all in "nail biter, horse race mode": Mélenchon catching up to Fillon! Macron overtaking Le Pen! In the home stretch, any one of the four may qualify the the second round! It's a cliffhanger! Stay tuned to our TV channel (after these messages)!

This is of course very good for TV audiences and for the infotainment business bottom line (just like 2016 was a great year for NBC, CBS and the likes...)

Macron and Le Pen are still polling at least two percentage points ahead of Mélenchon and Fillon. Since this election is so unlike any previous elections of the past 20 years, the race is still quite unpredictable and things could still change in the next couple of days.

For those who can read French, this article asking for the voters' second choice if they couldn't vote for their favorite candidate.

by Bernard (bernard) on Sun Apr 16th, 2017 at 04:17:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Coming back to my first diary's argument, no matter who will be elected president on May 7, the party or coalition who gets a majority of seats at the National Assembly will in practice run the country.

Forget about France's supposed "presidential system": the president has little choice but to appoint a prime minister and a cabinet from the parliamentary majority.  If only because the National Assembly can overthrow the cabinet with a simple majority vote.

This is a configuration ("cohabitation" between a prez and a PM of opposite sides) that happened a couple of times (1986-1988, 1993-1995, 1997-2002) and the balance of power between the president and the prime minister has always been clearly in favor of the latter.

Sarkozy is reportedly planning to lead the LR campaign to win a majority at the National Assembly and be able to rule even in the event of a - probable - Fillon loss.

by Bernard (bernard) on Sun Apr 16th, 2017 at 04:34:44 PM EST
Yes, but there is little likelihood of a coherent majority. Whatever the presidential outcome, it's likely that LR will have the biggest group in parliament, by virtue of having a functioning political party and well-established candidates... which is not the case of any of the other three blocs.

The blood-letting on the left is going to be completely horrifying. I don't know that anyone has a clear vision of how it will play out nationally; I think it's best approached by examining a polity that one knows in some detail. In the Lyon region, unless the fratricide calms down, there will be a boulevard for LR and Macron's candidates.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Apr 16th, 2017 at 05:03:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Comments - French presidential elections 2017: First Round
 In the Lyon region, unless the fratricide calms down, there will be a boulevard for LR and Macron's candidates.  

Will LR and EM be the ones reaching the second round and then facing of against each other? Shouldn't at least one candidate form the left reach the second round and then gather the remaining behind them?

by fjallstrom on Tue Apr 18th, 2017 at 02:56:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It depends. "En Marche" has promised to present new candidates, civil society etc. but often, incumbent MPs have declared their support... in Lyon, several PS have defected to Macron, and logically will get the endorsement.

Then there is the fact that both the Insoumis and the Communist Party are running candidates, against each other, for the legislatives. There will also be an official PS (actually, PS/EELV alliance) candidate, everywhere. Unless.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Apr 18th, 2017 at 08:28:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You might have cut yourself of there.

Did you mean, unless there is a deal this will often mean no left candidate over 12.5%?

Which is the limit for the second round if I understand the election system correctly.

by fjallstrom on Wed Apr 19th, 2017 at 01:43:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's the difference with the presidential election where the second round is a run-off between only two candidates who got the most votes during the first round.

For the legislative elections, all candidates who get a number of votes of at least 12.5% (1/8) of registered voters can run in the second round (and then the FPTP system applies).  

As I mentioned in my diary 5 years ago, 3-way or even 4-way second rounds that were a rarity during the 1970s and 80s have become more prevalent with the rise of the FN as a third major party.

by Bernard (bernard) on Wed Apr 19th, 2017 at 08:15:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nevertheless, even the legislative elections could break the mould and fail to give the successful Presidential candidate a legislative majority.  For instance if either Hamon or Fillon are further squeezed, it's hard to see their parties doing well in the legislative assembly elections. And Trump has proven that being moronic is no longer a bar to success.

Looking at it from afar, it looks like late breaking undecideds will swing the election. I suspect that may favour Macron the most, with Le Pen benefiting from the enthusiasm of her base and a possible shy Tory effect.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Apr 16th, 2017 at 05:06:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is at least paying attention...

(Caution: comes included with some cliched jokes about French culture, a weird bit about a French guy not knowing about Chewbacca, plus an on point dig at Mel Gibson)

by Bjinse on Mon Apr 17th, 2017 at 10:27:31 PM EST
A gunman reportedly opened fire on police officers on the Champs Elysées, near the Franklin D. Roosevelt subway station. One police officer killed, another wounded. Assailant reported dead.
by Bernard (bernard) on Thu Apr 20th, 2017 at 07:40:47 PM EST
Will this have any impact on the election?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 21st, 2017 at 03:33:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If it favours anyone, it favours Le Pen.
But her electors are already highly motivated, and those that will vote on an "anti-Arab" agenda have made up their minds long since.

There can be perverse side-effects: some eejit with an Insoumis logo twitted that it was obviously staged by "le pouvoir" to favour their candidate (Macron I suppose). Which is obvious rubbish.

On the other hand, I did wonder about the terrorist group busted in Marseille. That would be classic tactics : you've been keeping an eye on them, and you reel them in before the election. However, Mathias Fekl, the Minister of the Interior, is a Hamon supporter...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Apr 21st, 2017 at 04:34:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the other hand, there are the capitalist terrorists (option traders) that attacked that German football team. Shouldn't that help Mélenchon?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri Apr 21st, 2017 at 06:00:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The excellent Serge Halimi fills in some blanks :
Battle for the French presidency

Decades of practice at tactical voting may keep the far right out, but at the price of a business as usual neoliberal for president.

Listening to Macron is like listening to Bill Clinton in the 1990s, or Tony Blair and Gerhard Schröder a few years later (3). Following him would mean pursuing that neoliberal-progressive `third way' that beguiled the US Democratic Party and European social democrats even more than Hollande, and then brought them to their current dead end.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri Apr 21st, 2017 at 06:40:09 PM EST

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