I see England, I see France

An overview and thread for discussion of looming national elections in the United Kingdom and France.

UPDATE: Exit polls from France will be published 4am EST (i.e. early Monday morning), and the actual result should be clear about three hours after that, unless it’s particularly close.

There’s a lot of big election news going down right now at the other side of the globe, starting with the first round of France’s presidential elections on Sunday, to be followed a fortnight later by a run-off between the two leading candidates.

Recent polling indicates the two leading candidates are Marine Le Pen of the far right National Front and Emmanuel Macron, a former Socialist running under his own banner. However, polling hasn’t had a great record in Europe lately, and Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight has pointed to a suspiciously narrow range of recent French presidential results, which has been known to signify that pollsters are “herding” each other off the end of a cliff. This leaves at least some hope for François Fillon of the centre-right Republicans, whose initially promising campaign has been hobbled by personal scandals. A hard left candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, has gained a head of steam over the past month, although his recorded support has recently tapered off at a level below where he needs to be. Head-to-head polling suggests Le Pen would be heavily defeated in the run-off, particularly if facing Macron.

It also emerged on Tuesday that Britain will go to the polls on June 8, for an election that looms as an historic disaster for Labour. The Conservatives’ unexpected majority victory at the May 2015 election was achieved from 36.9% of the national vote, which netted them 330 seats out of 650, compared with 30.4% and 232 seats for Labour. Recent polling has mostly had it in the low forties, but two polls conducted in the immediate wake of the election announcement had them at 46% (an ICM poll for the Guardian) and 48% (YouGov for The Times). Labour’s recent poll ratings have been anywhere between 23% and 29%, with the most recent results being 24% from YouGov and 26% from ICM. This suggests the Conservatives are in a position to match Labour’s historic landslides under Tony Blair, who won 418 seats in 1997 and 413 in 2001.

Both major parties were up slightly on the primary vote in 2015, but the Conservatives emerged the principal beneficiary of the collapse of the Liberal Democrats. By contrast, Labour was devastated north of the border by the triumph of the Scottish National Party, which won all but three of Scotland’s 59 seats, gaining 40 from Labour and 10 from the Liberal Democrats. The seats remaining to Labour are concentrated in London; Merseyside and Manchester; Leeds and its industrial surrounds; Birmingham; Newcastle and Durham; and south Wales. The rest of England’s electoral map is a sea of blue, punctuated by occasional small islands of red, and still more occasional ones of orange (traditionally associated with the Liberal Democrats).

Each of Labour’s stronghold regions consists of a safe core and a less safe periphery, and it’s the latter areas that are looming as the main battlegrounds of a losing election. To isolate one example, Labour holds 45 seats in the area of Greater London, compared with 27 for the Conservatives and one for the Liberal Democrats. It will continue to dominate the city’s inner east even under worst case scenarios, but will come under pressure in as many as ten seats in the west and on the fringe of the Greater London region.

The polls have generally had the Liberal Democrats at around 11%, representing a modest recovery from the disaster of 2015, when they dropped from 57 seats and 23.1% of the vote to eight seats and 7.9%.
However, opportunities for further gains are limited, and the Conservative tide could even cause the party trouble in the few seats it continues to hold. Ukip yielded only the seat of Clacton from its 12.6% share of the national vote in 2015, and lost that a month ago when Douglas Carswell, a former Conservative MP, quit to sit as an independent. Polls suggest the party has shed support to the Conservatives, so its pickings in the House of Commons look likely to remain slim or non-existent.

The polls I’ve looked at for Scotland suggest the Scottish National Party will retain most if not all of its 50.0% support from 2015, so the party will presumably continue to dominate Scotland’s 59 seats, of which it holds all but three. Any talk of a defeat for the government is being framed in terms of its majority being lost to a “progressive alliance” of Labour, the Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats, but at this stage it seems very unlikely it will come to that.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

48 comments on “I see England, I see France”

  1. The same author, James Kelly on possibility of Jeremy Corbyn doing better and Ruth Davidson (Scottish Tory & Unionist leader) doing worse..

    “But once it’s factored in that Jeremy Corbyn is definitely not going to become Prime Minister on June 9, the implicit question on the ballot paper changes.

    It’s not ‘May or Corbyn?’, but rather ‘Do you want May to get away with this stunt, or do you want her to be cut down to size?’ When wavering Labour voters start looking at the election through that prism, they may find it somewhat easier to stick with their usual party. And there’s certainly very little chance of the Tories successfully repeating their scare tactics from two years ago, about the prospect of a weak Labour Prime Minister being in the pocket of Nicola Sturgeon or Alex Salmond.”


  2. Labour has no opinion on the core issue of the election – Brexit. They have nothing to run with and will be obliterated. For this they can thank the abysmally useless Corbyn.

  3. ‘It also emerged on Tuesday that Britain will go to the polls on June 8, for an election that looms as an historic disaster for Labour. ‘

    The main thing to remember is that this has nothing at all to do with Corbyn.

  4. Labour’s devastating defeat will have plenty to do with Jeremy Corbyn. The voters do not like him and they do not want him.

  5. Responding to a query on the other thread, in the hope of stimulating discussion on this one: Exit polls will be published 4am EST, and the actual result should be clear about three hours after that, unless it’s particularly close.

  6. With polls outside the major cities closing at 7pm (Central European Daylight Savings Time), rather than 6pm as previously, and an unusually close race between 4 candidates to get through to the second round, there is a good chance that the who gets through result will not be known until quite a bit after the usual 8pm closure of major cities` polls allowing the broadcast of results.

  7. Like most here I hope Le Pen does not win. Fillon is a very flawed candidate for the mainstream right. So why were the Socialists so stupid as to permit three figures to run for them?? If Melenchon, Macron and the other guy split the PS vote, the runoff could still be Fillon vs Le Pen, a terrible outcome.

    I quite enjoyed my last visit to France. I hope egalitarianism continues to survive somewhere on earth, Howard having all but killed it here.

  8. Socrates, those 3 candidates are from 3 different parties, why would they collude? There are actually a number of other far right and far left parties too that have put up their own candidates but are lucky to poll anything close to 5%
    From the looks of it, Hamon of the PS will not poll anywhere near the the top 4 and “socialist” Macro is actually running as a non-aligned Centrist while Melenchon is far left. Fillon, the endorsed centre-right candidate is struggling to even beat 3/4th place Melenchon after the wages scandal. The centre-right must right now be regretting not putting up Juppe or Sakorzy.

    With a 2 stage presidency election, a spoilt vote doesn’t mean much as voters can reconsider who to vote for later in the second stage.

  9. There is an issue with some voters being sent 2 voting cards, because of an issue where previous enrolments not being deleted by new enrolments when voters move. It effects about 500,000 voters. This could, presuming a noticeable proportion of these people do actually vote twice and French election law would annul the results if this effected the outcome, cause a close result to send France back to the polls.


  10. It is Ed Milliband and his advisors who are responsible for this British election and the Brexit Referendum that caused it. Had Milliband & Co. decided that they should back the yes campaign, rather than the no campaign, then it almost certainly would have passed and then the Tories would almost certainly have failed to get a majority in 2015 and thus likely have been unable to call a Brexit referendum.

  11. Raaraa
    My understanding is that both Macron and Melenchon split from the PS, which they had earlier belonged to. So in it or not, they are all taking votes from the same bloc.

  12. Tom The First And Best
    Sunday, April 23, 2017 at 9:53 pm
    It is Ed Milliband and his advisors who are responsible for this British election and the Brexit Referendum that caused it.

    Miliband was no longer leader at the time of the Brexit referendum held in June 2016. Miliband was assuredly useless but nowhere near as enfeebled and incompetent as the utterly abysmal Corbyn.

  13. The first 200 votes from each of 500 polling stations (closed an hour ago) are extrapolated to show –

    Macron 23.7

    Le Pen 21.7

    Melechon and Fillon on 19.5.

    So both major parties eliminated if this holds.

  14. Poor bastards. Their Xenophon versus their Hanson in their runoff.
    I guess it is a bit more complicated than that…

  15. Macron and Le Pen as expected. I would have loved to see a Macron and Melenchon but I think Melenchon turned people off with the anti-EU stance.

    Socrates, Melenchon has long abandoned the PS. He is part of the Far Left and is also endorsed by the Communists. I think politics is France is a lot more complicated than just the usual centre left-centre right divide. The last 10 years see people backing Sakorzy and then Hollande and were disappointed by both in their first terms.

    I don’t see Macron as a populist like Xenophon and see him as a centrist candidate that attempts to leave the old labels. The centre-right and PS will now rally behind him to fight off the far-right Le Pen.

  16. Seems like Fillon and Melenchon was tied with 19.5%. Uninspiring Hamon only got 6.2% despite getting the endorsements of two parties.

  17. Raaraa
    Thanks, I did not know that about Melanchon. Still I am pleased to see the result so far. I agree the EU needs reform but think it has been too much maligned. It is the ECB and its austerity policies that really need to be overhauled or broken up. The EAu itself still has many other policy benefits.

  18. I’m pretty glad that the French polling has been pretty accurate compared to the ones in the US and UK lately.

    Still I have to say I am a bit concerned (not so much in the presidential run off, but still anxious) in the next French parliamentary elections where we still see the old major parties in play.

  19. Wow, The French are going to get a pro-US, arch neo/liberal banker/wanker “blairite” as President!!!

    I gather he supports “free” markets, labour market “re-structuring”, open door immigration … …. all the idols of the neo-liberal right establishment in their fight to increase corporate power.

  20. Given that, in western countries, both the traditional “left” and “right political movements are run by neo-liberal ideologues, the poor and powerless have no option but to vote for rightist parties. Though ineffective, a protest is the only use their vote has.

    It will happen here if the right ever got a rational political leader and party.

    A comment in the Guardian by a French voter:

    “During the campaign, one leftwing voter, an IT worker in Angers, said he worried about Macron’s championing of the globalisation that had made so many working class people angry and sceptical of the ruling class. “I can’t vote for Macron because he hasn’t understood why people vote Marine Le Pen,” the voter said. “Which means he’ll repeat all the same policy mistakes and in five years’ time we’ll have Le Pen in power.”

  21. Raaraa

    What is a centrist?

    I see a “centrist” as just a neo-liberal who would allow gay marriage. And surprise, surpeise, that is essentially how Macron defines himself? i.e. both economically and socially “liberal”.

  22. Raaraa

    in the next French parliamentary elections where we still see the old major parties in play.

    And the French only get until mid June for them all have to turn out again for that.

  23. Swamprat,

    personally I would have liked to see Macron pitted again Melenchon, but I am only a poll follower and don’t know enough about French issues on the ground to actually pick a side in France. I do would like to see Le Pen out, but I think her people will still be galvanised enough to make a play for parliamentary seats in June. You would only hope that the left parties also put in as much effort. This has more impact than the president IMO.

    I’m only hoping that in 5 years. the FN will go the way of the AfD in Germany. The extreme right seems to be losing a bit of steam and I am hoping that it stays that way.


    Not just the parliamentary elections in June, but the presidential run off in May. It’ll be a while before things settle down again.

  24. Raaraa:

    I wonder what the outcome of the Presidential election will have on the parliamentary election.

    Macron is part of this new movement En Marche and is fielding candidates in the parliamentary election. Will this be Socialist held seats falling to him? Will it be the end of the Socialists (given Hamons poor results tonight) or will they split?

    Similar Le Pen will stand candidates. They currently have two seats. Where will theirs come from? The Republicans? Or more left leaning areas persuaded by her anti-EU stance?

  25. The French are going to get a pro-US, arch neo/liberal banker/wanker “blairite” as President!!!

    Macron will be a hopeless president. He’ll make things safe for the powerful and do nothing helpful for the vast majority of the population. It’s sad that the brazenly corrupt Fillon managed to get 19.5% of the vote.

  26. Raaraa

    “Turnout was 69.42%. A soixante-neuf and the meaning of life. How much more French can you get?”

    very funny

  27. Better than Fillon-Le Pen contest. Now that would have been a disaster.

    The left and centre could have dusted off the slogan from the 2002 Le Pen (snr) – Chirac contest: “Vote for the crook, not the fascist”.

  28. http://www2.politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2017/04/25/first-wave-of-french-second-round-polling-gives-it-to-macron-by-20-or-more/
    First wave of French second round polling gives it to Macron by 20% or more
    April 25th, 2017

    Macron leads!
    by Chris Bertram on April 24, 2017

    Macron has won the first round of the French Presidential election, and I for one am very pleased at the outcome. In the first place, I’m pleased because Marine Le Pen and the Front National have not done better despite circumstances, such as the Nice and Bataclan attacks, that might have been expected to give them a further boost. This suggests that, at least in France, right-wing populism has hit a limit, for the time being. Second I’m pleased because I think Macron probably has more about him than the Blair and Clinton comparisons and the childish chanting of the mantras of “neoliberal”, “austerity”, “banker” and “elite” by the Mélenchon claque suggests. He’s someone both committed to the EU and committed to changing it, whereas Mélenchon was all about making demands and walking away, in the vague direction of Lexit, as soon as the other member-states turned him down. Unlike Clinton and Blair he has done what he has done without a massive party machine behind him, he’s exhibited a lot of political courage and his bet has paid off. Now that we face the second-round, we see Mélenchon refusing to back Macron against Le Pen, which to my mind indicates that Mélenchon is an unserious poseur, but then his enthusiasms for Hugo Chavez and his apologetics for Assad ought to have been a clue to that.

  29. Austerity is a genuine problem in Europe and Macron`s record in his time in the French Government and his history as a banker strongly indicate that he is not likely to take on austerity. Austerity and related policies over several decades have been the most of major causes of the rise of Front National.

    The Assad apologetics are symptomatic of Mélenchon`s pro-Russian viewpoint, which is troubling given Russia`s domination by Putin and Co. There is far too much support for the Right-wing Putin and Co on the left, especially given Russia is now very right-wing. The rising support for Putin on the far-right should be putting the left off Putin.

    Hugo Chavez and Co took a corrupt and unequal country and redistributed the corrupt power in a more even manner (not equally to everybody by any means, but more evenly). The accompanying economic management has been significantly sub-standard. Chavez and Co have also not been the most Democratic or rulers but neither are they by any means the lease Democratic rulers.

  30. Latest General Election polling in Scotland:
    SNP 43.6% (-0.7)
    Conservatives 30.4% (+6.1)
    Labour 15.3% (-0.7)
    Liberal Democrats 7.0% (+0.7)

    “The second update of our Poll of Polls for Scottish voting intentions at the general election is based on two full-scale Scottish polls (from Panelbase and Survation), and eight subsamples (two from ICM, one from Ipsos-Mori, one from Panelbase, one from ComRes, one from Survation, one from Opinium and one from YouGov).”

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