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As the French presidential race heats up, one thing is clear: support for the left is tanking

As the French presidential race heats up, one thing is clear: support for the left is tanking
Recent polls in France show voters are deserting the left in droves prior to next year’s election, dashing the hopes of those who predicted the SPD’s success in Germany might signal a resurgence of socialism in Europe.

The race to be the next president of France is heating up. In recent months, we have witnessed a significant drop in support for Marine Le Pen and the emergence of another insurgent outsider, controversial journalist Eric Zemmour. Moreover, we have also seen the chances of Michel Barnier, the European Union’s former Brexit negotiator, quietly improve.   

It is fair to say that Le Pen’s road to the Elysee has narrowed recently. Back in July, she was regularly polling around 25%, yet the latest poll puts her down on 16%. The collapse in Le Pen’s support has come at the hands of Zemmour, who is now running almost even with her, despite still not officially declaring his candidacy. Some are now predicting that Zemmour is the biggest threat to another four years of Macron.   

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Quietly garnering support is Barnier, who has yet to win his party’s nomination. He has realised that playing the pro-EU card in France at the moment is akin to punching oneself in the face, and so he has been sounding like the French equivalent of a Brexiteer in recent months. 

Barnier has called for a moratorium on immigration and even questioned the primacy of EU law in France. And this from a politician who has been a creature of the European Commission for the past decade; he’s increasingly sounding more like Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki.  Nevertheless, his supporters are increasingly confident that he will secure the Republican nomination.

Whilst the right has been battling it out to see who will make it to the second round of voting, President Emmanuel Macron’s support has been at best steady. He is polling an unremarkable 24%, which must surely give hope to his opponents.    

With so many interesting characters on the right jostling to face off against Macron in the second round, what the international media are failing to report is the collapse of the French left – and it really is a remarkable fall from grace.   

The Socialist Party candidate, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, is marooned on a mere 5%, which is down 1% on what the party received in 2017. This is amazing when we consider that Francois Hollande – a Socialist – was president as recently as four years ago. The reason for the dire polls is that support for the Socialist Party has collapsed outside of France’s major cities. 

We are seeing the same trend in England, where the Labour Party is now over-reliant on votes in the major urban centres at the expense of everywhere else. Its fixation on issues such as LGBT rights, pronouns, and climate change may well appeal to students and assuage the consciences of the university-educated metropolitans, but it has a pretty low ceiling. Hence the fact that the party lost many seats outside cities to the Conservatives at the last general election and posted its worst result since 1935. 

But in France, it is not just the Socialist Party that is suffering – other left-wing parties are too. The Greens, for example, are stranded on 8%, which is a far cry from the results the Greens post in Germany. Indeed, in last month’s federal elections, the Greens in Germany took 15% of the vote and will no doubt form part of the governing coalition. Again, when it comes to the Greens, France at the moment resembles the UK, where the Green Party rarely polls over 5%.  

And then there is the far-left, which has a long-held tradition in French politics. At the last presidential election, Jean-Luc Melenchon, the far-left candidate, took 20% of the vote in the first round. Today his polling has halved, and he is expected to take only a 9% share. 

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Some questioned whether the SPD’s victory in Germany gave hope to Europe’s left and asked whether it could precipitate a resurgence in socialist and green politics? Well, certainly not in France, where the left is in the doldrums and the right is making all the running and the headlines at the moment. 

It is, of course, too early to predict the outcome of next year’s presidential election in France. However, I think we can safely say that the next president will not come from the left. Moreover, if the polls don’t improve – and improve quickly – the left-wing candidates could well be humiliated.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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