French presidential elections: April 10 and 24

Emmanuel Macron slumps in runoff polls against Marine Le Pen. Also covered: the Ukraine invasion, this Sunday’s Hungarian election and US and UK polls.

10am AEST Monday Hungary’s far-right Fidesz has been easily re-elected at Sunday’s election. The polls that showed a close race between Fidesz and the united opposition were wrong. I will have more before the first round of the French election next Sunday.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

First the Ukraine invasion: In the five weeks since Vladimir Putin launched the invasion, neither side has made decisive breakthroughs. Despite relentless bombardment of cities, Russia has been unable to seize them, while Ukraine has been unable to repel the Russians. Analysts expected Russia to overwhelm Ukraine quickly, so this stalemate is a surprise.

If Western powers sent tanks and aircraft to support Ukraine, Ukraine would win decisively. But the West is afraid to escalate and possibly provoke nuclear retaliation from Russia. My opinion is that Putin would only destroy the world if Russia itself was invaded, and that yielding to this nuclear blackmail will encourage Putin to use the same tactics again.

In my last Ukraine article three weeks ago, I said incumbent governments had received a boost from the popularity of the Western sanctions on Russia. But as I predicted then, that boost has reversed owing to higher inflation due to the sanctions, and the perception that the West should be doing more to militarily assist Ukraine.

Don’t expect Putin to become unpopular in Russia anytime soon. The UK’s Survation pollster conducted a mid-March Russian poll, well after the sanctions were imposed. The invasion was supported by a 64-17 margin, and 69% thought Russia was a liberator, 62% a peacekeeper and just 13% an aggressor. Putin had a 66-16 approval rating.

French elections

The first round of the French presidential election will occur April 10. In the likely event no candidate wins an outright majority, the runoff between the top two first round candidates is April 24.

Incumbent Emmanuel Macron currently leads in the first round with about 28%. The far-right Marine Le Pen is second with 20%, while the far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon has surged into third with 15%. The more far-right Éric Zemmour and conservative Valérie Pécresse have both faded to around 10-11%.

This has been a humiliating election for the former major centre-left party, the Socialists, who elected a president in 2012. The Socialist candidate has about 2% in the polls.

An Elabe poll conducted March 28-30 gave Macron just a 52.5-47.5 runoff lead over Le Pen, down from 56-44 on March 20-21. But two other recent polls gave Macron a 55-45 lead and one a 53.5-46.5 lead. Macron still leads by about 60-40 against Mélenchon.

At the 2017 election, Macron defeated Le Pen by a 66.1-33.9 margin with polls understating Macron. If current polls are accurate, that’s a double-digit swing to Le Pen. Last May, I wrote about how non-university educated whites are shifting to the right in the US, the UK and Australia; France looks like another example.

These elections will only elect the president. Legislative elections will occur on June 12 and 19 in a two-round system. France holds its legislative elections about two months after the presidential election so that the president’s party is more likely to win a legislative majority. A newly elected president would expect a honeymoon.

Far-right likely to win in Hungary despite closeness to Putin

The Hungarian election is Sunday. The far-right Fidesz has governed since 2010, but faces a challenge from a united opposition (important as 106 of the 199 seats are elected by first-past-the-post). Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was warmly received by Russia three weeks before the Ukraine invasion, and has been friends with Putin for a decade. Despite this, Fidesz leads by two to 11 points in eight polls conducted since March 21.

US and UK polls

53.0% currently disapprove of Joe Biden in the FiveThirtyEight tracker, and 41.3% approve (net -11.7). Biden’s net approval recovered early in the Ukraine invasion to a peak of -8.6, but has slipped back since. US inflation increased 0.8% in February for a 7.9% 12-month rate. Real weekly earnings dropped 2.3% in the 12 months to February. In redistricting news, Ohio’s Republican gerrymander will be used for at least the 2022 elections, while Maryland’s Democratic gerrymander was rejected by state courts.

UK polls suggest the Conservatives are continuing a recovery from Partygate, with Labour’s current lead down to low single digits. The police recently issued 20 Partygate fines, but I don’t believe this will have anything like the impact of the original revelations.

46 comments on “French presidential elections: April 10 and 24”

  1. Thanks Adrian.

    I tend to agree with you on Putin’s trigger for destroying the world, but the risk in being wrong is substantial. (It’s probably called Russian Roulette for a reason.) And Putin seems to be engaging in historical revisionism, so where that Russian border is on any given day might be arguable.

  2. I was going to post this on the “main thread”, but then this one popped up.
    If you aren’t a student of history but are interested in Putin’s war in Ukraine, you can do worse than take 15-30 minutes to digest this piece. It provides a background of ideas (with examples) that analyse the European geist and peek into the future. There’s no good guy versus bad guy stuff. And the comments are decent.

    Russia, Ukraine and Europe’s 200-year quest for peace — Mark Mazower

    (Europe, 2 centuries ago)

    One of the keys to the success of the Vienna system was that the victors chose to define their enemy as Napoleon himself, not his country. … As “the disturber of the tranquillity of the world”, Napoleon was packed off first to Elba and then to St Helena. … French self-esteem was unharmed even as France gave up its continental ambitions. “Restored to its ancient frontiers”, Talleyrand reassured Austrian foreign minister Prince Metternich, “France dreams no longer of expansion.”

    (Europe, 1 century ago)

    In contrast to Vienna, the Versailles settlement after the first world war turned out to be a study in failure. Excluded from the peacemaking, the most powerful economy on the continent only reluctantly accepted the conquerors’ terms.

    (Europe, 3/4 century ago)

    a radically original approach to international peacemaking sprouted … It was an approach designed not for the age of empires that was passing but for the world of nation-states … [it] intensified economic co-operation and fostered a normative alignment around democracy that brought an end to the Franco-German antagonism

    (Europe, 1/4 century ago)

    For Russia this has been a staggeringly rapid reversal … Though not a defeated power like France in 1815 or Germany after the two world wars, in just a few years and virtually without a shot being fired, it finds itself back territorially more or less to where it was in the 18th century.

    (Europe, now)

    [Putin has written, wtte] “the contemporary conception of a Ukrainian nation is nothing more than the product of an unholy fusion of Bolshevik political engineering and western hatred of Russia” … The racism of the Nazis is missing; but the sense of existential threat justifying the use of force, the use of history as a trump card to dismiss the claims of newer, smaller nations and the disdain for an international order of sovereign states are all familiar. … Whatever happens in Ukraine in the coming weeks, it is hard to see that there can be any return to real peace on the continent so long as he (Putin) is in power.

  3. I think people are consistently failing to think through what would be involved in Western boots/machinery on the ground or in the air in Ukraine.

    At the moment, Putin has confined himself to the borders of that country. The second there are NATO forces directly fighting Russian forces, he has no reason to confine himself in that way. Indeed, he suddenly has a strategic reason to try to tie up western forces elsewhere. Russia might then strike anywhere from Poland to Japan to Sweden to the US itself. It probably wouldn’t, but it might. Right now the chances of that are effectively zero.

    I am glad that very cool heads are prevailing in the US and Europe over this.

    Speak of the US, it absolutely baffles me that anyone can look at this nightmarishly dangerous situation in the Ukraine and still say that they want Trump as president. We could all be irradiated ash by now or, more likely, NATO could have disintegrated and Russia could be rampaging through Ukraine committing atrocities with hardly any resistance. Trump actively sought to destablise NATO throughout his presidency, and is clearly a sociopathic narcissist as well as declining mentally. How can even a single person want someone like him to make decisions that expose us all to a risk of nuclear war?

  4. Also, “opinion poll in totalitarian hellhole finds that citizens love their glorious leader” is not exactly newsworthy, unless I’m missing some context.

  5. The problem I also see in supplying tanks and jets to Ukraine is where to get the equipment that they know how to operate.
    The Polish jets are probably easiest solution in respect to aircraft but neither the Poles nor the Americans are happy to be the one’s hand them over. I can’t see how the Americans handling it would annoy the Russians any more than they have already. I think the handing them over in Germany might have been vetoed by the Germans too.
    On the tank front, lots of the world has Russian/Soviet made tanks except they are either/or/both in “unfriendly” or “neutral” countries like India or not modernised. Sending in T-72s is not going to work if they are the same as they were built in the 70s. Again the most likely country to be able to offer equipment is Poland but the same problem that occurs with the Migs occurs with the tanks.

  6. Adrian – right, but who is being polled?

    I think that is part of what the West hoped, but the other part was simply crippling the Russian war machine, and that aspect of it seems to be going swimmingly.

    And it’s not necessarily the person in the street but rather the 2nd through 50th most powerful person in Russia who needs to be polled for their views on Putin and his war…

  7. AB: The far-right Marine Le Pen is second with 20%, while the far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon has surged into third with 15%. The more far-right Éric Zemmour and conservative Valérie Pécresse have both faded to around 10-11%.

    This has been a humiliating election for the former major centre-left party, the Socialists, who elected a president in 2012. The Socialist candidate has about 2% in the polls.

    The combined Centre -Left Socialists and Centre-right Conservative candidates are polling around 12 %.
    So the ruling elite of Post WW2 is decimated.
    In the vacuum the Far-right and far-left candidates are polling 45% of the vote.
    I can’t understand how Macron can lose from here.
    Macron must be thanking his stars for the decimation of Centre-right and Centre-left polity.

  8. While we are looking abroad, I note that the Timor Leste presidential elections took place two weeks ago, with a run-off on April 19th.

    Not so important on a world stage, but as they are more or less our second-closest neighbour, was disappointed not to see any mention of it in the blog.

  9. UK polls suggest the Conservatives are continuing a recovery from Partygate, with Labour’s current lead down to low single digits. The police recently issued 20 Partygate fines, but I don’t believe this will have anything like the impact of the original revelations.

    I want to distinguish between UK people and English people.
    It appears English are very forgiving of Tories. They never seem to learn. 🙂

  10. Patrick Batemansays:
    Thursday, March 31, 2022 at 2:21 pm
    Adrian – right, but who is being polled?

    And it’s not necessarily the person in the street but rather the 2nd through 50th most powerful person in Russia who needs to be polled for their views on Putin and his war…

    Do you have a death wish for “2nd through 50th most powerful person in Russia” or what?

  11. Ven, I do, but that’s a different topic. 1st too, as a matter of fact. Selfish ****s who hurt their own people and foreigners alike.

  12. Thanks Adrian Beaumont.

    From Global leaders ratings, The net approval of BOJO is improving, which is reflected in the improvement in party polls
    And newly elected German Chancellor is already has negative net approval rating.

  13. Adrian, how is the Survation poll (and other such polling in a country like Russia) conducted? What measures to guard against the poll being completely tilted and useless by the inevitable concern of people being polled in a dictatorship that “wrong” answers will be harshly punished?

    If I lived in a dictatorship that disappears inconvenient people, I would not be telling a random phone caller that I disliked the dictator. Not even if the caller had a British accent and promised on their honour not to hand over the names of dissenters to the FSB.

    I’m not saying a majority of Russians necessarily realise the truth, but a number like “66-16” ought to give off a strong smell of rotten eggs to anybody. You couldn’t get those numbers in a democracy for anything and anyone in this day and age (edit: except for Modi, and even he has a higher disapprove number than that).

    The rebound of Le Pen in France has to be a concern. You’d think Macron would benefit from taking a fairly early, strong and consistent stand on Russia-Ukraine relative to Germany but it doesn’t seem so. Macron has long seemed more of a compromise candidate to block Le Pen than someone who really has his own support base and he handled the yellow-vests protests extraordinarily badly, didn’t his approval rating get down from above 60% to 25% at one point? Some of this probably represents the incumbency-during-COVID bounce wearing off.

    In the US, as I said months ago, Biden needs an unequivocal win to change the narratives around his Presidency. Afghanistan and the inability to pass Build Back Better have done extraordinary harm because his supporters have little to point to when Republicans slam him as a loser, ineffective President. Ukrainian success in the war might represent his best shot.

    Boris Johnson is lucky as sin, although it also demonstrates why UK Labor needed to go for the jugular earlier. Letting Johnson fob them off with an internal inquiry, then a belated police inquiry which has managed to take ages just to hand out 20 fines, took the fire out of it and probably would have even without the Ukraine story to hide behind.

  14. Arky, the details of the Survation Russian poll are in the link in the main article. There was some stuff that didn’t go Putin’s way, for instance concern over the effect of economic sanctions. Modi in India has a 76-19 approval, which is better than Putin in this Survation.

    “During March 16-17th Survation interviewed 1137 Russian adults online, covering their views on political leaders and institutions, the conflict in Ukraine, news media, messaging and social media use. Data are weighted to the profile of adults in Russia aged 18+”

  15. Adrian Beaumont
    Further to your reference to India’s Modi leadership ratings, you may already know that Modi’s party won 4 out of 5 State Elections in India, one of them being the biggest State in India.
    However, last year a couple of months after Delta wave, Modi party lost elections in 3 out of 5 State elections.

  16. Arky, leaving aside that the Russians get the Russian propaganda view of the war while we are getting a different view you shouldn’t necessarily assume that the average Russian’s worldview necessarily lines up with yours – for example its fairly likely that a lot of Russians blame the West for sanctions (or alternately neither know nor care that some rich blokes yachts got impounded) rather than Putin necessarily.

  17. “Modi in India has a 76-19 approval, which is better than Putin in this Survation”

    On the Morning Consult tracker, which with all respect I really have no way to know how well they are sampling in a country like India, but I’m fairly distrustful of any organisation in this day and age trying to poll in a wide variety of countries. Organisations with expertise focussed in a single country have still come major croppers of late.

    Most other polls I’ve seen of India have Modi in the 60s, which while high corresponds with his national election results pretty well.

    Re the Survation poll, I found it interesting they said this is noticeably less support for Putin than in polling done before the war and polling around the invasion of Crimea. I still don’t believe it is even close to getting honest replies (that’s hopelessly naive with all respect) so the movement compared to past Putin polling may be more significant.

  18. “My opinion is that Putin would only destroy the world if Russia itself was invaded, and that yielding to this nuclear blackmail will encourage Putin to use the same tactics again.”

    Well, a full invasion of Ukraine by NATO means the potential for Putin to lose the war, the Russians to be expelled from both the Donbas and perhaps Crimea regions, and total humiliation for him personally and the Russian nation more broadly. That will easily open up the possibility for a nuclear option that will definitely escalate into WWIII. Hence, this is not just a silly Putin tactic, it’s a real strategic problem that NATO cannot just brush aside with a bit of wishful thinking and cynicism.

    However, Putin won’t be able to do anything against a strong NATO support for the Ukrainian army via weapons, logistics and also allowing “volunteer fighters” to enter Ukraine and join the war effort. He has shouted that he can use the nuclear deterrent if NATO keeps helping Ukraine in any way, but nobody believes him, everybody knows those are just empty threats.

    Putin can’t invade NATO members, NATO can’t invade Russia, and so the clash between the two will be in Ukraine through a direct involvement of the Russian army and an indirect involvement of NATO. So far, it looks that, in the long term, the Russians will fail in the objective of fully occupying and controlling Ukraine, but they could still get some substantial gains if they only limit their claims to Donbas and Crimea. If Putin wants to achieve that he must act swiftly, time is against him.

  19. “Putin had a 66-16 approval rating”…

    Hmm, that doesn’t look good for a de facto dictator, and things are only going to get worse in Russia as a consequence of the sanctions. Let’s not forget that the Russians have been lifting their living standards for some time (compared with the communist era), seeing those standards revert to the Soviet era is not going to make any of them happy, whether they are young or old.

  20. The Neoliberal shift to the far right, in order to preserve the status quo, doesn’t seem to be having any real success. Biden did dislodge Trump, eventually, and the French seem to be standing with Macron after all. Johnson in the UK is reaching his use-by date; and in Australia, Scomo and his Gang are just weeks from being booted out.

  21. Late Riser says:
    Thursday, March 31, 2022 at 2:00 pm

    Whatever happens in Ukraine in the coming weeks, it is hard to see that there can be any return to real peace on the continent so long as he (Putin) is in power.

    And Sky News and friends wanked on and on because Biden stated the bleeding obvious.

  22. Your in a country where security searches your phone for inappropriate text and someone rings up and asks if you support thee dear leader. What is your answer? 18% have the balls is pretty impressive.

  23. Morning Consult uses online methods for its polls. In Western countries, almost all people are able to go online, so they’re probably about right in the Western countries they poll. But in India, Mexico and Brazil, a sizeable portion of the population would not have internet access. So MC’s polls could be biased in those countries.

  24. frednk @ #29 Friday, April 1st, 2022 – 8:00 am

    A good discussion on the Russian poll.

    Thanks for posting. The clip goes into two related issues, the polls and open internal criticism.

    WRT polls Stanislav Kucher (the guy being interviewed) makes these points.
    * Russians (generally) trust what they are told.
    * Russians (generally) fear the state.
    That is, don’t trust the polls. Then he also throws in these descriptions, which aren’t followed up. (I wish they had been.)
    * Putin’s support lies with “aggressively silent” Russians. (Tough minority of belligerent Russians bullying the rest?)
    * Education and information are the only two things in the mindset of Russians. (Indoctrination? Lack of alternatives? ..?)

    WRT to open criticism, Kucher makes this point.
    * The critic is calling the Russian Defence minister inexperienced and ignorant (paper general or something like that), in effect saying he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

    Then the clip cuts off.

    So what to make of that? Clearly, don’t trust the polls, but also that Putin has a solid base of aggressive supporters that most people don’t want to piss off. And there was no criticism of Putin. Rather of the inexperienced (ignorant) guy in charge of the war effort. My guess is that this was staged to put pressure on the guy or it was to ready Russians for an escalation in the war effort.

  25. By Australia agreeing to provide the Bushmaster to Ukraine, it may have opened the gate to others to supply vehicles now after the previous reluctance to do so.

  26. Scotty announced we are sending BushMasters to the Ukraine. That is very different to any ever ending up there.

    Putin has majority support in Russia, Modi has 70+ support and Trump had 45+. Just cos we don’t like autocrats and nutters doesn’t mean the polls are wrong. Most people are not indoctrinated with the Anglo-American view of the world and have a different slant on who are the white and black hats. I think that if we take a step back from our mainstream news feed we get we might find that the it represents the view of the dominant powers, not liberal democracy or anything especially noble

  27. Thanks for your post Adrian.

    As regular blog readers will know, I am currently in the département of the Gironde (post codes beginning with 33), although a 5 min walk across the River Dordogne takes me to the département of the Dordogne (post codes beginning with 24). Info on Départements here:épartements_français

    Last night I went across the road to the Comptoir des sports, which has an amazing mix of French and English speakers. Last night I sat at the bar and talked to the French speakers, including our amazing proprietaire, Eric.

    The majority at the bar were small business owners (non-university educated whites?) and they were proudly voting for Zemmour. Even the guy with the Fedora, the darkish skin, and the Cockney accent, and who mostly spoke French during the evening, was voting for Zemmour. Mind you, within two minutes of meeting him, he told me, unasked for, that he has Sioux heritage. All said that they want the Moroccans out of France – surprisingly specific.

    Eric at the bar is different, and feels that Macron is the best that France can do, with current circumstances. I described myself as centre left, and he asked if that meant I though Mélenchon was the right candidate for me. I explained that I was more centrist than that (personally I would love to see Mélenchon as president, but the outcome would be the same as for Leon Blum’s fronte populaire in 1936 – France would move even further to the right), and I would support the Partie Socialist. Erik then told me they barely existed anymore, and seeing the 2% above, he is obviously correct.

    There are other bars in town that I go to, all exclusively French speaking. It is harder to know what people thing in these bars / tabacs. They mostly want to ask me about the floods in Australia, and how I ended up in a small French Bastide by the name of Sainte-Foy-La-Grande, 33220.

    However, the only people handing out at the markets are either for Mélenchon, or the communist party. We are in a stronghold of the left here, and I will await results for 33220 eagerly on 10th April.

  28. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not unlike Australia deciding to invade New Zealand. A lot of Russian troops are not that keen on fighting their “bro’s” in head to head combat, when they’ve been trained to fight the West and the Infidels. The Russian military told Putin that this would be a serious issue on the battlefield and it has turned out to be major problem. Combined with Ukraine’s total resistance on the battlefield, Putin will not be taking Ukraine any time soon. At the very best, with a huge amount of his troops committed, the Russians may get to the Dniper with very heavy losses, but they won’t get further and their ability to hold those gains will be very limited. The Ukrainian’s are already causing massive problems for the Russians in Kherson with their hit and run guerilla tactics tying down the forces there. The best Putin can hope for is maybe control of the Donbass and a corridor to the Crimea Peninsula through Mauripol. He’d like to take Odessa, thus cutting a “new” Ukraine off from the Black Sea to “nobble” it, but the Ukrainians will throw everything including the kitchen sink on thwarting that. The sooner Putin realizes that that’s the best he’ll achieve, without taking such serious losses that his dictatorship will come under threat as the body bags pile high, the sooner the peace deal can be negotiated.

  29. I am amazed. Morrison’s donate of Bushmasters has open the gate to the Czech Republic donating the ex-East German BMR-1s (hence why Germany needed to approve as their is some agreement on Ex-GDR equipment). I expect more armour to flow to the Ukrainians now.

  30. Some hope for the opposition in Hungary with a late poll showing a 47-47 tie between Fidesz and the opposition. But another late poll has a 10-point lead for Fidesz. See the polls link in the main article.

    The election is today, with polls presumably closing in the small hours Monday AEST.

  31. Interesting polling in Ireland

    In the North one month out from the election.

    The Unionist parties continue to wallow while Séin Fein has 26%. SF will very likely win the plurality and be called upon to provide the First Minister. I can’t see the Unionists agreeing to this and the assembly is unlikely to meet.

    In the South

    Séin Fein continues on 33% but (almost unbelievably) parties of the left have 55% and the (now combined) Civil War parties are on 35%. The FF/FG/Greens coalition barely makes 40%.

    The election is still 3 years off (if the coalition holds) but if the polling is maintained a SF dominated government is certain

  32. OC Sunday 9.50am re Northern Ireland…

    You suggest an SF First Minister would not be agreeable to Unionists and the assembly unlikely to meet. This seems drastic. What are the features of NI political process that would lead to a fairly chaotic outcome despite SF probably gaining biggest (although not majority) vote share?

    Does one party have to get the support of its opponents to govern?

  33. @ Snappy Tom

    The posts of First and Deputy First minister are intertwined joint and (and despite the titles) equal offices.

    IF SF become the largest party then they get to nominate the First Minister and the second largest party the Deputy but if they fail to nominate a deputy then the First Minister can’t be appointed meaning there can be no devolved government.

    It doesn’t stop the assembly meeting per se but without a government in place to propose legislation for it to consider or ministerial actions to scrutinise there is little point in it meeting.

  34. ChrisC Tues 5.13pm

    That sounds a bit like the Imperial Japanese system. In that case, there was a small cabinet of about 6, but if any one of certain key officials (like Prime Minister, War Minister..) resigned, the whole cabinet had to resign.

    This gave enormous power to, for example, militaristic War Ministers.

    I guess the Northern Irish system is seeking to promote partnership between previously warring factions.

    Does this mean SF has been accommodating mainly Unionist First Ministers for over 20 years, but now, when SF may achieve ‘First’ status, Unionists will take their bat and ball and go home?

    Is it that petty, or is it more complex, perhaps relating to Brexit issues?

  35. Adrian and all,
    Does anyone know of a French psephology site that is OK? I need more colloquial French practice, and also of course I want to follow today’s election.

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