May 22, 2022

Is Jean-Luc Mélenchon better off in 2022 than in 2017?

POLITICS – The rebellious fable. This is one of the novelties found by Jean-Luc Mélenchon and his supporters for the spring of 2022: playing the role of the “sagacious electoral turtle” who will eventually overtake the hares. The LFI presidential leader used this metaphor in Nantes, during his immersive and olfactory meeting on January 16, drawing on the work of Jean de La Fontaine.

“There is no point in running, you have to start on time”, said the one who started first, on the left, a year and a half before the deadline. Since this successful event, the animal, supposed to embody constancy, perseverance or, here, experience can be found on social networks. He invites himself into the pseudonyms of certain executives of rebellious France or accompanies the sharing of positive polls (not the others).

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who is gathering his troops this Thursday evening in Tours, may have several reasons to be satisfied with this start to the campaign, despite the division on the left and a curve of voting intentions blocked, for the moment, around 10%. And hope for the future? This is an other story.

What the polls say

If we put aside the new “Cluster 17” institute, which has become a benchmark for supporters of the Common Future, since it systematically measures their candidate 3 points above the other pollsters, Jean-Luc Mélenchon is in the lower range of its low water level in February 2017 (between 9 and 12%).

With one notable difference: the one who had announced to split into a hologram had reached the 15% mark several times in January 2017, before the socialist primary. It is far from it today.

Five years later, despite this lower score, and the lack of dynamics, the rebellious candidate dominates the competition. And this for several months as our compiler shows below. He is, in view of the most recent voting intentions, the best placed in his camp, four points ahead of Yannick Jadot (5%) and more than five ahead of Christiane Taubira (4.5%), Fabien Roussel (3%) and Anne Hidalgo (3%). This was not the case for the previous presidential race.

Because at the beginning of February 2017, the cantor of the Sixth Republic was systematically overtaken in the opinion polls by a Benoît Hamon at the top of his form (15-17%) after his victory in the primary.

The curves only crossed in mid-March, before a dazzling breakthrough by Jean-Luc Mélenchon which will bring him to the gates of the second round. The way therefore seems clearer today for the leader of the rebellious… thanks, above all, to the weakness of its various competitors. The total of voting intentions credited to the left as a whole is even at a historically low level.

Can he benefit from the useful vote?

In this context, the pool of votes seems to be reduced for anyone who wants to approach a second round, whose accession ticket is currently set at around 16-17%.

Above all, to benefit from a useful vote, induced by his pole position, Jean-Luc Mélenchon will have to meet several challenges. Mobilizing abstainers and those “disgusted” with the ballot box is one of them. Standing out in the eyes of voters as the “natural” candidate of his camp, despite a relative loneliness on the political level, is another. In other words: We will have to move the lines, as he knew how to do in 2017 after the debates in the first round against Benoît Hamon in particular.

A task made all the more difficult today by its somewhat damaged image and its tendency to get lost, sometimes, in the relay of hazy theories. He recently criticized a polling institute by implying that it was directed by “the son-in-law of the president”. A fake news in vogue on social networks, which the rebellious candidate will end up removing from his Twitter account a few minutes after having published it.

Excesses that the tribune justifies by his “Mediterranean character” by calling on voters to go overboard, as during his back-to-school speech in Valencia. “You others are there, looking and saying ‘it doesn’t suit me, Mélenchon he speaks too loudly or not enough, I was told he was this or that, it doesn’t suit me'”, ironically the deputy, at the end of August, for whom these debates: “do not count”. “I am as I am, what matters is the program.”

The popular union, but with whom?

Enough to convince? Probably not for the various left-wing political parties, at a time when there is no indication that some will choose to withdraw from his candidacy, despite his position in the polls. It doesn’t matter, for the Insoumis. They want to bring people together from below. It is in any case the leitmotif of the People’s Union and its “parliament”. A campaign body which must attract personalities from civil society, or other political formations, into the fold of LFI.

For the moment, the catches remain modest. In addition to Thomas Portes, the former spokesperson for Sandrine Rousseau, Aymeric Caron, the militant journalist for the animal cause, Aurélie Trouvou, ex-leader of the NGO Attac, Jean-Luc Mélenchon has not yet received support “ snoring”. We could also cite the former popular Primary candidate Anna Agueb-Porterie or the Communist deputy Sébastien Jumel who have also joined the cause.

But an elected official is not the party, let alone the voters. And the PCF, which had backed him in the last two presidential elections, will no doubt end up missing out on the unsubstantiated candidacy in this multi-week race against the 2017 presidential campaign.

If Fabien Roussel, who justified this solitary adventure, among other things, by the “excesses” of his former comrade, does not collect even 3% of the votes, he will deprive Jean-Luc Mélenchon of much more than the famous 600,000 votes missing in 2017.

See also on The HuffPost: Behind the scenes of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s immersive meeting in Nantes