Election Night Hot Take

10 April 2022

I am slightly more confident now than I was a few hours ago that Marine Le Pen will not be the next president of France. True, she improved her first-round score compared with 2017, but if one adds her 23.3% to Zemmour’s 7, she is still below the 33-35% where some polls had placed her before Zemmour joined the race. And since Les Républicains got only 5, compared with 20* in 2017, she might have been expected to profit more handsomely from their collapse.

Mélenchon also improved his position slightly compared to 2017, but this reflected the choice of left-wing voters not in his camp to “voter utile” by abandoning the PS, the Greens, and even the Communists. Hidalgo’s 2.1% was even more embarrassing than Pécresse’s 5; Jadot’s 4.4, ditto; and Roussel, who was briefly at 4.5, fell to 2.5.

The race will now be decided by the results of the debate. Both candidates must conceal their worst traits: Macron must check his arrogance, and Le Pen must continue to hide her contemptuous scowl behind her bright smile. She will claim all of Zemmour’s voters and some of Pécresse’s. Mélenchon’s supporters must decide whether their antipathy to Macron is greater than their detestation of Le Pen.

Mélenchon just said: “Nous savons pour qui nous ne voterons jamais. … Vous ne devez jamais donner une voix à Mme Le Pen.” Good news for Macron.


  • Bernard says:

    I refer to the Le Monde article https://www.lemonde.fr/les-decodeurs/article/2022/04/11/premier-tour-2022-vote-des-villes-vote-des-campagnes_6121688_4355770.html . This is quite simply the single most important fact of this election and puts to rest in my view the contemptuous notion that the electorate of MLP is the former communist electorate. The reality (which I have been convinced of all along) is that the former communist electorate is the JLM electorate. He was N°1 by a few thousand in Ile de France ahead of Macron and way ahead of MLP. He got close to 50% (!) in the Seine Saint Denis département and 33% in the former communist stronghold Val de Marne with Macron second on 29% and MLP on 12%. MLP and the far right are not the working class candidates, they are the countryside disaffected candidates. JLM is very clearly the working class candidate and has successfully recreated the old French communist party of the early 1970s. As you rightly noted a couple years ago with the famous quote from Raymond Aron, the French are still a dangerous people.

    • Arthur Goldhammer says:

      Bernard, I usually agree with your comments, but I think you’re only partially correct here. Le Pen did extremely well in the old mining and steel regions of the Nord and northeast. These were once Communist strongholds. There is a good deal of evidence that the FN and RN literally took over from the PCF in these areas, occupying in some cases the same buildings that once served as leftist social clubs. The urban working-class that now votes for Mélenchon has changed in its social composition: many are now “issus de l’immigration.” Whereas in the provincial industrial regions there is actual familial continuity between a generation that was once communist and a generation that is now FN. Furthermore, the urban Mélenchon vote includes many people who are not of the working class but who read the polls and simply wanted a left alternative with a chance of making the final round. Strategic voting is real. See my article in The New Republic, which will be out later today.

      • bernard says:

        I may have been somewhat excessive but I think you are a little bit as well. The truth likely lies somewhere in between us.

        Just an example but I have a great many up my sleeve. One of my reflex actions in the situation we face after the election was to check Le Havre, a town I know well, and of course this town belonged to the PCF since WWII until conservative Ruffenacht took over in 1995, followed in 2010 by another conservative who did some good things for the town (I hate to admit it) and may have been a prime minister for Macron recently. Naturally, Mélenchon came first ahead of Macron in this former communist stronghold, and MLP was a distant third.

        One can also check the nationality of most workers in Renault’s Ile Séguin plant in the sixties and seventies. This plant was as we all know fully owned by the CGT jointly with the PCF at the time and even the elite university French Maoist avant-garde of 1968 could not make the slightest dent. Yet the electorate of PCF at that time was indeed mostly “French”. The reason is of course that workers such as those of Renault’s plant (mostly Algerians of course) did not have French nationality and thus could not vote! Today their descendants are French “issus de l’immigration” and voted Mélenchon and are by the way discriminated against on a daily basis just like their ancestors were in the sixties and seventies. Also, La Reunion and Guadeloupe used to be communist strongholds, (Martinique I am not certain) and Mélenchon polled over 50% in these places, by the way for the same reason that led them to vote communist in olden days.

        Obviously the connection between the PCF and immigration did not start there, as the heroes of the MOI party section (which became the FTP-MOI military organisation) including young 16 year old Mr Krasucki demonstrate. Of course at that time, immigrant mostly meant Central and East European immigrant (and Jewish at that, remember the Yiddish proverb from the shtetl “happy like a Jew in France”) rather than African.

        Of course strategic voting is real and I was part of it. It brought JLM another 5 to 7 points and we almost succeeded, what a pity. Nevertheless JLM’s is still the “nouveau parti de la classe ouvrière” rather than just a party of young hipsters.

        So I think that we both have a point and thus I will agree with your argument up to a point!

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