Article by Alejandro Ronard Alem.- Just 3 days after the first round of general elections to the presidency of the Republic, uncertainty has settled in the French political landscape.
The undecided voters – in the order of 34-40% of all voters – are the center of attention for the eleven presidential candidates in this first round. Of which only two will be competing, starting on April 23.
This situation has no precedents in the Fifth Republic. Since 1958 it is the first time that four candidates are distributed almost equally (between 23 and 18%) of the intention to vote in the first round.
Marine Le Pen of the far right Front National. Since the election of 2002 Marine Le Pen dreams of achieving the second round, like his father Jean-Marie did. Jean Marie Le Pen was the creator of the National Front party. Then, when everything predicted a second round between the outgoing PM, Socialist Lionel Jospin and Paris Mayor Jacques Chirac, the night of the first round resulted in a final duel between Chirac and Jean-Marie Le Pen.
The results speak for themselves of the fragility of the vote in the first round, Jacques Chirac picks up 19.88% of the votes and Le Pen 16.86%, Lionel Jospin 16.18%. The second round turned into a republican plebiscite against the extreme right, and Jacques Chirac is elected president with the 82.12% of the votes.
To change the face of the neofascist movement of his father, Marine Le Pen undertakes a fierce battle to turn the family business into a potable party in the eyes of the French.
And the bleau-blanc-marine operation has worked, keeping a respectable and patriotic outward appearance, Marine Le Pen advances with a young guard of leftist elements, defenders of the french sovereignty with the plus of the ENA (National School of Administration).
But in the successive crises of the European and French economy, the issues that struck the history of the National Front resurface and the strategy will continue to be to penetrate the popular sectors with an anti-elite speech, protectionist and a anti-European program, and anti-immigrant speech.
The intention of the workers vote is a sign of this transformation, Marine Le Pen represents 44% of the workers’ vote according to the polls, while the others receive less, such as Ménenchon 17%, Macron 17% followed by Hamon 9% and Francois Fillon 7%.
Nationally, the intention to vote 3 days before elections, according to the polls, are the following Marine Le Pen with 22% followed by Mélenchon and Fillon, each with 19%.
Emmanuel Macron. Former Minister of Economy of F. Hollande, a leftist pro-European liberal who has created a new social-democratic movement (En Marche), associating left-wing personalities, right-wing liberals, centrists and personalities of the civil society. Among its supports, the current Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian stands out. This man -of little political experience- has been the surprise, where others failed, with the creation of a movement of French center right, radical, centrist and socialist around a social-democratic program, and 100% pro-European.
Francois Fillion, a Republican rightist candidate (Les Républicains and UDI centrists), who unexpectedly won his party’s primaries but then had to stand trial for corruption, accused of false testimony and use of public money (Penélopegate ). With open cause and not having been prosecuted, it still has the benefit of presumption of innocence. Former Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, Mr. Fillion has struggled to reunite his political family but plans to make it to the second round. “I do not ask you to love me, I ask you to vote my program, the only one capable of saving France” has been Fillon’s request to the French electorate.
And the fourth candidate is the leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who began his campaign a year ago creating a movement “la France Insoumise” from his Front de Gauche. Ally of the French Communist Party. Ménenchon is a political man of long trajectory, minister, and senator. Excellent tribune and fierce political opponent. Friend of the Venezuelan Chavez, idolatrous of Fidel Castro and condescending with Vladimir Putin. Cataloged as a left-wing populist, he was able to create a certain dynamic, which he himself explains as a snowball by which the left would destroy everything in its path.
Follower of Mitterand, is cataloged as the French Bernie Sanders. Its strong point is “the communication”, the person in charge of the strategy in this sense is Sophia Chikirou, which does not leave anything improvised and that after a passage by the Spanish campaign of “Podemos” and the one of Bernie Sanders in the USA, has modeled the Mélenchon’s aggressive image. She is at the origin of the use of new communication technologies, like holograms for example.
The other personage and fifth candidate in the intentions of vote, with only 8%, is Bernoît Hamon, winner of the primaries of the ruling Socialist Party and that also defines himself like the French Bernie Sanders. The primaries of the Socialist Party and its allies were held in January this year.
More than 2 million voters mobilized and Hamon, who faced former PM Manuel Valls (candidate of the reformist social-democratic wing) won the primaries with almost 54% of the votes and unexpectedly created a dynamic by remaining in the opinion polls, placing himself above the candidates to his left, (J.Luc Melenchon, etc.) but losing against the center-left candidate Emmanuel Macron, in the intentions of voting.
But since then what happened to Hamon? Because he suffered an electoral erosion of magnitude, going down in the polls from 15% to 8% in two months. In his program of government worked economists like the Frenchman Thomas Piketty and is sponsored by James Kenneth Galbraith , former adviser of Barack Obama and of Bernie Sanders, being son of the famous economist John Kenneth Galbraith, adviser of President Roosevelt in the launching of the New Deal, in order to get out of the crisis of 1929. And James Kenneth Galbraith thinks that Hamon can emancipate France from the dogmatic ideology of European austerity. His program is defined by Nicolás Hulot (the maximum figure of French ecology) as the most interesting and best worked on the subject of ecology.
The problem has been his political strategy. Hamon remained in the primaries of the Socialist Party. Being one of the leaders of the self-styled “frondeurs”, who are the ones who opposed all the reforms of the government of the socialist Francois Hollande and that obviously do not claim this quinquennium. He chose the tight embrace, the embrace of the bear. He did not extend his arms to the Social Democrats and centrists who took the candidate of Socialism to power in several elections.
He ran into a dead end claiming the alliance from the first round with Ménenchon. And he fell into the trap of the charismatic leader of the extreme left, who showed for now a greater sense of opportunity.
Slowly, Hamon, being the official candidate of the Socialist Party, has been distancing itself from the possibility of being present in the second round. He reaffirms that he will go to the end and that he is preparing for the reconstruction of the French Socialist Party. Hamon rejects the idea of a “useful” vote against the extreme right and calls for a vote of conviction.
Nicolás Dupont-Aignan, candidate of “Debout la France”, who has reached 4% of the intention to vote and thinks to dispute the leadership of the right to Francois Fillion. With an anti-elite speech, anti corruption, anti European, he is defined as a Gaullist who has clean hands and the consciousness of having served the French people.
Two Trotskists candidates also managed the 500 signatures of the big electors to stand for election, as set out in the Constitution.
One of them Philippe Poutou of the NPA (New Anti-Capitalist Party), the only candidate in the electoral competition, who created the surprise with the phrase “we workers do not have immunity, when we are called by the police or justice, we present ourselves in Court.”
This phrase of Poutou, was sent in the televised emission of the debate of all the candidates, in front of Marine Le Pen and Francois Fillion, both candidates with problems to solve with the justice.
This campaign atypical for the intensity of the accusations about the so-called “affaires”, the complaints, the rumors and finally the little discussion on the content of the programs and where once again terrorism has become present.
An imminent terrorist attack was aborted by the security agencies, where the executive branch in charge of guaranteeing the security of the French, has gone to extreme measures to safeguard the French people. About 50,000 police and gendarmes will guarantee the 67,000 open places to vote. The candidates’ personalized guard has been reinforced and Interior Minister Matthias Fekl called for prevention and vigilance on election day. In the last large end-of-campaign events, the controls have been reinforced by the police.
President Francois Hollande has left his reserve, not indicating a preference for voting for this first round, but he affirmed that whenever it is possible that the future of France is played by voting against the extremes and its anti-European programs.
“The president who will choose, will not be able to satisfy everything,” says F. Hollande.
In all cases, the candidate who leaves the polls on May 7 will face the heavy task of creating a presidential majority in the maximum Legislative Assembly.
Six weeks later the elections to the French Parliament will take place and from there the new majority will emerge.
The new legislative majority will choose a Prime Minister and / or confirm the one that the president-elect will appoint from May 8.
And that is what the French political forces are already working on.