the french presidential elections have been quite exciting. from the initial debates each party had (minus the ones led by egoists such as front nationale, insoumise francais and en marché) actual political party debates and primaries.
on april 23 the french voters head to the polls. this is the point at which the french people will send the world a message. if they are completely ready to tear down the elysse, then marine le pen (nationale front) and jean-luc mélenchon (insoumise francais) will snare slots 1 and 2. if the message is more complex, then emmanuel macron will make it to the second round.
mélenchon, who launched his candidacy by replicating himself in holgraphic form in lyon while speaking in paris (or was that vice versa), held a rally last sunday in marseille whereby 70,000 people turned up. and no one got hurt, despite france still being under a state of emergency. although the mainstream media outlets around the world continuously site the crowd as numbering in the tens of thousands, it was more like nearly 100,000.
on wednesday mélenchon live streamed his meeting in lille on youtube. there were 23,000 seats in the hall and they were all full. outside there were thousands more who watched mélenchon speak on a screen. but what do these numbers really mean? and can mélenchon win? we would like to point out that mélenchon performed swimmingly during the first presidential debate 4 weeks ago with the top 5 candidates. in the second debate, which included all 11 presidential candidates, polls show that mélenchon won. and his numbers immediately shot up. now he is is third place with an approval rating of 68%–22 points higher than 4 months ago. but will his surge peter out? or will the france bond market go down in flames?
we think that macron is essentially the center-right candidate at this point and that mélenchon is searching for the 6% of voters who vote for the front nationale as a form of protest. for 12 years the front nationale was stuck at 16%. they bumped up to 18% in 2012. but where are they now? is the 22 – 24% poll numbers for le pen underestimating the far right voters. is le pen experiencing the shy tory effect? in 2012 when mélechon’s poll numbers were overstated, did he experience what is known in the USA as the bradley effect –whereby people claim to be voting for a candidate as it is the politically correct answer to give pollsters. well, that’s the short version really.
but can mélenchon win? at the moment he is seemingly the only adult in the room. as he is 65, le pen is 48 and macron weighs in at 39 years old. and what would happen if marine le pen wins?
in the end the general consensus of the english language press is that as neither the front nationale nor insoumise francais will do well in the assembly elections in june, neither le pen nor mélenchon would be able to push through any of their radical ideas. such as exiting the euro. but this isn’t really true. the french presidency has quite a bit of power. more so than the US presidency. under charles degaulle the position became eligible for direct election by the people and the president can dismiss parliament and call referenda at will. and under exceptional circumstances, Article 16 of the french constitution, according to the encyclopedia of brittanica, allows for the concentration of all the powers of the state in the presidency.