Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hollande Will Not Negotiate with Mélenchon

François Hollande says that he won't negotiate with Mélenchon between rounds 1 and 2 of the presidential elections. Well, of course not. He's getting all of Mélenchon's votes anyway, but he's been losing ground in the "report des voix" among Bayrou voter, now divided 36/33/31 among Hollande, Sarkozy, and abstention, compared with 44/32/24 2 weeks ago. Is this a sign that Sarkozy's rhetoric--"it's me or chaos," an echo of the 1981 rightist chant "it's Giscard or Russian tanks in the place de la Concorde"--is actually having an effect?

In any case, Hollande seems to be gaining in second-round support from Le Pen voters. A bit strange, given the tepid campaign that Hollande has run. I hesitate to make large generalizations on the basis of error-prone and perhaps inaccurate polling, but could it be that these shifts show that when push comes to shove, Bayrou's supporters have their hearts on the right, even if it means reverting to Sarkozy, while working-class voters who have been drawn to Le Pen still remain moored to the left when it comes to the ultimate choice?

Of course the real question--and what may be giving Bayrou voters pause--is the negotiations that will take place before and during the legislative elections, not between rounds of the presidential. Mélenchon's PCF backers will want some concrete gains in the way of legislative seats and the financial support that goes with them. So they'll be pushing for an accommodation, and Hollande will want as large a majority as he can muster, so he'll be inclined to seek their support wherever it can help.

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