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Thursday, 17 April 2014

Do polls "predicting" François Hollande defeat in first round 2017 French presidential elections make any sense?

Ah political polls. Don't you just love 'em?

The frequency with which they're commissioned and published in France would have you believe the French do...well at least the country's media does when the news schedule is slack or journalists feel like a good old job of "professional" political speculation.

The latest "nonsense" poll to be published is one carried out by OpinionWay for Le Figaro and LCI telling us that if the 2017 presidential election were to take place today (well, you know how these things work) François Hollande would not make it past the first round.

He would only win 18 per cent of the vote in the first round, trailing both the far-right Front National (FN) leader Marine Le Pen (25 per cent) and the (presumed) candidate for the centre-right Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (Union for a Popular Movement, UMP) Nicolas Sarkozy (29 per cent).

In other words the presidential second round in 2017 would be between Le Pen and Sarkozy.

(screenshot OpinionWay poll of voting intentions)


"Allô ! Non mais allô, quoi," to quote a great modern day French thinker.

What's this all about.

Seriously - forecasting results three years hence, based on a poll taken today is...well, misleading to say the least.

Of course it's probably one of the drawbacks of the "quinquennat" or the five-year presidential mandate passed by Jacques Chirac in 2000 and first used in 2002 to replace the previous seven-year term in office.

No sooner has a president been elected in France, than attention seems to focus on what might or could happen five years down the line.

Of course Hollande is unpopular at the moment. We know that because...well the polls keep telling us and the media delights in repeating it.

But predicting that Hollande might not even make it past the first round in 2017 when he's not even halfway through his term in office is...well surely complete and utter nonsense.

In fact it's a non story and one of pure fiction.

Sure it feeds into the widely-held (according to those very same opinion polls) belief that Hollande is incompetent, lacks clear vision and was the major reason for his Socialist party's defeat in last month's local elections,

But in and of itself, the survey says nothing about the likely outcome in 2017. Rather it's just a snapshot of current opinion and the image those polled have of Hollande.

After all, if a week is proverbially "a long time in politics", what the heck does that make three years?

Not convinced? Then just take a look at what a poll, taken at a similar stage during Sarkozy's term in office, predicted for the first round of the 2012 election - two years before the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair hit the headlines.

Sarkozy followed by Martine Aubry and François Bayrou.



(screenshot La Nouvelle Edition, Canal +)



The actual result (just in case you needed a reminder) Hollande 28.63 per cent, Sarkozy 27.18 per cent and Le Pen 17.90 per cent.




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