‘Faire barrage’, to put up a blockade, has been a common thread in French elections since the National Front became a serious factor in French politics in the 1980s. This boiled down to that if an extreme-right candidate were to stand a chance, the left would support the right and vice versa. This happened, for example, in 2002, when Jean-Marie Le Pen made it to the second round. In the end, Jacques Chirac won with a Soviet score of 82.2%, thanks to the support of the left. He was subsequently paralysed for the rest of his 2nd term by not choosing between left and right policies). In 2017, the dyke reinforcement also played a part. Emmanuel Macron won then partly thanks to the left’s support with 66% against Marine Le Pen’s 33%.
Now four years later, those (and many other) voters are pretty disillusioned. So much so that cracks are beginning to appear in the ‘dike’. The daily Libération published an article on Saturday
(€ paywall) on left-wing voters who are supposed to form a barrage against the extreme-right. They no longer intend to support a candidate they don’t actually like, just to build a dike against Le Pen (Jr.). According to some, the most significant difference between Macron’s LREM and Le Pen’s RN is that whatever the latter talks about, the first one turns into law.
Whether this is right is food for much debate. Macron has indeed done a lot in recent years to attract voters from the right, hoping to take the wind out of Le Pen’s sails
. With little success. The latest polls
show that Macron may lose out to Le Pen in the first round next year. Harris
‘ poll this weekend caused some panic
: the result in the second round could be 52%-48%, in favour of Emmanuel Macron. That’s a victory, on paper at least, but considering the margin of error of two points, it comes down to fifty-fifty. So in the second round, Macron needs every vote he can find, including those from the left.
It is questionable if we should attach any values to polls more than a year before the elections. Yet, opinion polls do give an indication of trends. In the coming year, you can follow the presidential rat race in this Newsletter.