HH French Election – Bad Dream Intrusion
The “Nightmare Option”
The French presidential election was temporarily relegated to the back-pages following the US strike on Syria, but a few days ago, the Economist Magazine returned to the topic, noting that a potential “nightmare option” has suddenly come into view. In recent months certainty had increased that once the election moved into its second round, it would be plain sailing for whichever establishment candidate Ms. Le Pen was going to face. That certainty has been shaken quite a bit lately.
The four front-runners in the first round election, from left to right: François Fillon, Emmanuel Macron, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Marine Le Pen. That’s right, Mr. Mélenchon, a.k.a. the “French Hugo Chavez” has actually become a serious contender. If you want to know how abysmally bad his economic program is, just consider that Thomas Piketty supports him.
Photo credit: Patrick Kovarik / AFP
Apparently, French voters were greatly impressed by far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who on occasion of the second televised debate once again proved his ability to out-gab his competitors. Voters already took note of him as a master of witty repartee and cutting verbal jabs in March, which promptly sent the poll results of his ideologically closest opponent, socialist candidate Benoît Hamon, into a death spiral. In the debate in early April Mélenchon reportedly outdid himself.
It seems Mélenchon has taken support from everyone – with the noteworthy exception of the scandal-ridden conservative candidate François Fillon of all people. The latter is slightly gaining in the polls as well after he decided he wouldn’t let a little corruption scandal get in the way of his presidential ambitions. A chart showing first round voter intentions according to the latest opinion polls illustrates the stunning effect of Mélenchon’s debate performance:
(Click on image to enlarge)
French national opinion polls, average. Mélenchon’s support has taken off like a rocket, and even Fillon has managed to regain some of his past glory. Macron and Le Pen have lost about 2% each since the March debate, while Hamon has essentially suffered a flash crash
In view of the fact that Venezuela is currently spiraling down the proverbial economic toilet after many years of socialist mismanagement, it is quite astonishing that all it took for Mr. “French Hugo Chavez” to garner that much support was his sharp tongue coupled with a bunch of completely absurd and clearly unaffordable promises.
With Mélenchon at 19%, Fillon at 20%, and Macron and Le Pen at 23% each, anything is now possible, as they are all within the known margin of error of French opinion polls. The so-called “nightmare option” would of course consist of Le Pen and Mélenchon making it to the run-off election. That is still not the most likely outcome, but it has at least become possible.