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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Mélenchon à la troisième place, devant Le Pen et Bayrou

by Sébastien Crépel

Mélenchon in third position, ahead of Le Pen and Bayrou

Translated Wednesday 28 March 2012, by Harry Cross and reviewed by Bill Scoble

A poll that immediately made headlines, carried out by BVA between Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, credited candidate to the French presidency Jean-Luc Mélenchon with 14% of voting intentions, thus overtaking the FN and the Modem. Hollande (PS) retains first position for both the first and the second rounds of the election.

It was the number one story of the day: according to the BVA poll carried out for RTL and regional daily press – made public the morning of the 23rd of March – the candidate of the Left Front, Jean-Luc Mélenchon came in third position behind François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, ahead of Marine Le Pen and François Bayrou, who up until that point had occupied third and fourth place. He received 14% of voting intentions – once again, a level not previously obtained – ahead of 13% for the candidate of the FN and 12% for that of Modem.

At first glance, three aspects of this report immediately grab the attention. The first is that the fear tactics used by Marine Le Pen to steal votes from the two leading candidates, in an attempt to resurrect the spectre of the April 21st election in 2002, has not worked. The performance of the Left Front in this poll thus constitutes a dramatic transformation in the political landscape, since no candidate so far has successfully stolen from Jean-Luc Mélenchon his title of outsider, creating a veritable shockwave in the campaign.

Scenarios reimagined

The second aspect is that the front-runner position is still maintained by François Hollande, with 29.5% of voting intentions, ahead of Nicolas Sarkozy at 28%. This gives the lie to theories claiming the progress of the candidacy of Jean-Luc Mélenchon could only happen at the expense of the socialists, leading to a "crossing of curves" between the candidates of the PS and UMP. Not only has nothing of the sort occurred, but this poll predicts what every other has, without exception, for the second round of voting: a definitive victory by François Hollande over the outgoing president (54% against 46%).

The last aspect, and certainly not the least, though it should still be considered with great caution, is the date of the release of this poll, carried out by BVA between Wednesday evening and Thursday morning - that is to say, once the identity of the Toulouse gunman was known. This detail is not without importance, knowing the shockwave that this drama created, and its political exploitation within 48 hours by the political right and far-right. The effects will doubtless continue, since in France “the judgement and the consequences of this drama have now become part of the debate around the presidential campaign, and the political debate as a whole”, as stated Pierre Laurent (PCF) on the web-based video site, Public Sénat, on Wednesday. The encouraging tendency of the continued rise of the Left Front, which is accelerating following immense popular success at the Bastille, demands to be reaffirmed in the long run.

See also (in French):
>Jean-Luc Mélenchon à 13%
>Mélenchon: "Déterminé à combattre tous ceux qui ont la haine en commun"

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