Hard times for French Socialists

John wrote below about the sorry state of the British Labour Party. It has fallen so low that it’s reduced to advertising on Twitter for candidates.

In France, the Socialist Party is the analog of the British Labour Party. It has fallen even lower.

In the presidential election be held this weekend, the Socialist candidate, Benoit Hamon, is expected to finish fifth. That would make him, in effect, a fringe candidate.

Such an outcome would be astonishing, all the more so given that (1) the Socialist party currently holds the presidency and (2) Hamon is hardly up against titans or luminaries. Let’s consider the four candidates who are running well ahead of him in the polls.

There’s Marine Le Pen. Five years ago, she ran a distant third in the first round of the presidential election. The Socialist candidate, Francois Hollande, outdistanced her by 10 points (28-18).

There’s Emmanuel Macron, just 39 years old and with “upstart” written all over him. He has never run for office before.

Macron started out as a Socialist but then founded his own political party “En Marche!” It means “moving,” but moving where? Neither left nor right, he says. But where? No one seems to know.

There’s Francois Fillon. He’s a formidable guy, and was the heavy favorite in the race early on. But that was before it was revealed that he put his wife on the government payroll making big money doing very little. As a result, his support plummeted. Fillon is still far ahead of the Socialist in the polls, however.

Finally, there’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the Communist. In 2012, he ran a distant fourth in the first round, with only 11 percent of the vote. This time, Mélenchon is likely to perform considerably better, while Hamon may replicate Mélenchon’s 2012 showing — if he’s lucky.

The latest poll numbers could hardly be more grim for the Socialist. Le Pen and Macron are at around 23 percent; Fillon and Mélenchon at around 19 percent; Hamon at around 8.

That’s how far the French Socialist party has fallen in just five years.

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