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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les sondeurs actent la hausse du Front de gauche

by Sebastian Crepel

Pollsters confirm the Left Front surge

Translated Friday 30 March 2012, by David Lundy and reviewed by Bill Scoble

Polling companies now concur and put the Left Front candidate at 13 to 14% of the vote. This breakthrough has ruffled the feathers of the PS (Parti Socialiste, Socialist Party), which maintains that the results of the first round of voting will not influence their candidate’s programme.

It is now a reality in all the polls: all concur and indicate that the Left Front and its candidate have entered a new phase in the campaign. In one week, Jean-Luc Mélenchon rose to 13-14% of the vote. Since the CSA poll, which put him at 13% (+ 2 points) for the first time on March 21, all other surveys published have confirmed this breakthrough: 14% (+ 5 points) according to BVA for RTL, Orange and the regional press, 13% (+ 1.5% in one week) according to Ipsos for Le Monde, Radio France and France Télévisions. Similarly Ifop (+ 3) for Europe 1, Paris Match and Public Sénat, and 13% (+ 2) according to Harris Interactive for VSD and LCP.

French people’s priorities remain the same.

One can offer at least two explanations for this surge. One is the electoral context: efforts by Sarkozy and Le Pen to sidetrack the campaign onto the themes of security and immigration since the events in Toulouse do not seem to have worked. The French are not distracted from their crisis-sharpened priorities such as purchasing power (42% according to BVA), unemployment (30%), and growth (23%). All are subjects at the heart of the campaigns of left candidates, and particularly that of the Left Front. There is also a second factor that sheds light on Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s polling figures: the dynamics of a Left Front campaign, widely seen as the most active of all the parties. This is the case for respondents to Harris Interactive, who put Mélenchon’s campaign first (for 29% the most "impressive"), ahead of Nicolas Sarkozy (22%), Marine Le Pen (8%) and François Hollande (6%), but also according to TNS-Sofres for I-Télé last Friday: 56% of French people believe that Mélenchon is making an impact in this campaign, against 54% who feel this way about Nicolas Sarkozy, 40% for Le Pen, 21% for François Hollande and 18% for François Bayrou. The two main candidates paying the price are Bayrou and Le Pen. Bayrou is now trailing behind the Left Front at 11-12%. Marine Le Pen has slumped and stagnated at 13-16%.

For the PS, Jerome Cahuzac, adviser to Francois Hollande, warned yesterday that in the second round, voting for François Hollande means "approving his programme"; in other words, there would be no concessions based on the results of the first round - an attempt to divert the Mélenchon vote that is causing concern within the PS. Not that the victory of the left is threatened: on the contrary, the march of the PS candidate is still overwhelming in the second round against Nicolas Sarkozy (54% against 46% across all surveys). A high Left Front score is in the cards, while at the same time, the possibility of eliminating the threat posed by the FN, reducing the score of the centre and its influence on the left, and achieving a combined left vote that Ségolène Royal lacked in 2007. Left-wing voters transfer much more heavily than the center to the Socialists in the second round of presidential elections. But the advance of the Left Front is disrupting the course of the PS which must now readjust its programme to the success of the Left Front campaign. A left shift in the campaign is a key challenge in the first round to ensure policy change after the elections.

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