Sunday, January 22, 2012

Front de Gauche: a dynamic that disturbs

By Sébastien Crépel
Translated Friday 20 January 2012
by Henry Crapo and reviewed by Bill Scoble

The progress that Jean-Luc Mélenchon is making in the opinion polls, which bodes well for the advancement of the Left, is disturbing to the bipartisan scenarios prepared in advance.

“Something is happening around the candidate of the Front de gauche. It isn’t l’Humanité that is saying this, but now the quasi-unanimity of commentators, such as the political commentator for France Inter and leading journalist of Point, Anna Cabana who, yesterday morning, on the airwaves of the public radio station, evoked “a dynamic, a chemistry, a crystallization, as one says about love — the opposite of what is happening around François Hollande”.

In fact, the candidate of the Front de gauche is gaining likely voters: an increase of 1.5% in the most recent polls by Ifop and LH2 (see l’Humanité for yesterday), with respectively 7.5 and 8.5%. But it is especially the electoral potential that Jean-Luc Mélenchon holds in this election: 23% of voters would “certainly” or “probably” vote for Jean-Luc Mélenchon according to BVA (and not “will vote”, as erroneously reported in our edition yesterday).

This progress for the candidate and his program comes at a moment when the team of Hollande-Sarkozy seems to be stalled in the public opinion. “For April 2012, everything seemed to be written in advance. A four-way match (with Bayrou and Le Pen), or rather Sarkozy and Marine Le Pen as scare-crow. This film of the presidential election didn’t find its public,” rejoices Olivier Dartigolles, spokesman for the PCF and member of the campaign council of the Front de gauche.

Who can complain if, thanks to the dynamics growing within the Front de gauche, there at last emerges a citizens’ debate on the present alternatives?

However, this is not what emerges from commentaries that accompany this rise of the Front de gauche. It is presented rather as a menace. “The electoral potential” of Jean-Luc Mélenchon could “dangerously erode the first ballot position of the socialist candidate”, writes Gaël Sliman of BVA. And the commentator of France Inter explains that “Mélenchon does a service for Sarkozy by prospering at the expense of Hollande”.

This is a short-sighted analysis because, if one looks closely, the danger for the Left is the continuous erosion of intended votes these past three months, essentially profiting François Bayrou. And the attempts at rapprochement with the latter have not reversed the tendency — quite the contrary.

From this point of view, the advance of the Front de gauche is actually a real chance for the Left: in the context of the stalling candidacy of François Hollande, and even a collapse for Eva Joly (Green) who gets barely 3%, the only dynamic that pulls all the Left toward the top today is on the side of the Front de gauche.

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