Three weeks ago, we were writing about the real “wave” Jean-Luc Mélenchon was creating behind him. Today for the first time, a poll suggests he could finish third of this election, just in front of François Fillon.
Would lose in the runoffs, except against Marine Le Pen
Today’s polls suggest Mélenchon has a one-point lead on Les Républicains leader François Fillon. With around 18% of the votes, he widens the gap with the Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon, relegated to the fifth spot with only 9% of the intentions.
This changes the established rules. Before, all the polls institutes were imagining three possible runoffs with two winners out of Fillon, Marine Le Pen and Macron. Now for the first time they have considered Mélenchon as an option and the results are not shocking, unless to one exception.
The leader from La France Insoumise can only become president today if he faces Le Pen. He would win with 53% of the votes, according to this survey. However, against Fillon or Macron, he would lose with a notable margin but it would be tighter than Le Pen.
The recent weeks have highlighted that on the left side of the political spectrum, the balance has completely changed and the rules need to be resettled. If the predictions turn out to be real in the next two weeks, Mélenchon could win the keys of the left and become the main driving force and consequently, explode the Socialist Party. On Saturday night, we saw the first glances of it as Melenchon received the support of Benoit Hamon. The socalist candidate realistically admitted that he would rather see Mélenchon than Macron on the runoff to face Le Pen.
With Macron on one side and Mélenchon on the other, the Socialist Party might suffer its biggest blow in history and never rise up from it.
It is time to take some step back and understand how Mélenchon arrived to create such a surprise.
The march in Paris, kicking point
About 100,000 in Paris gathered around the leader from La France Insoumise (The Unsubmitted France) on 18 March at Place de la République, which is the heart of French politics, waving French flags and cheering for the man that would soon become the surprise of this election. A survey published that day estimated Mélenchon at around 12%, six points behind Fillon.
The first debate two days later, confirmed this trend. During the debate, he made the French aware of what he is able to do. Mélenchon used simple and efficient sentences and was not afraid to launch a few “punchlines” against all of the other candidates, surprising the audience. His best moments are what the French remember from that night where 10 million people had their TV on. All commentators came up with one conclusion after the three hours of debates: “if there has to be a winner of this debate, it is clearly Mélenchon.”
He then took full advantage of having more “left” candidates than him (Poutou and Arthaud) during the second debate on 4 April to show the audience that he can be presidential as he is softer than some other candidates. Once again, he ends up (again) as the winner of the debate. A BFM TV poll stated 26% of favourable opinion for him, which placed him in front of Emmanuel Macron, who only earned 18%.
Mélenchon is popular wherever he goes. Rooms are completely full for his campaign rallies such as in Rennes where his team decided to put a screen at the last minute outside so his supporters could still be included..
Other good news for him, a recent survey during the week made of him the favourite politician across the country. He is according to the polls the most sympathetic, but not the most “presidential” one.
Nevertheless, the Mélenchon “wave”’ makes its way throughout the country and reached the Mediterranean city of Marseille and his famous port where he made a meeting earlier this Sunday. 70,000 people gathered around him and listened to his words, according to his campaign team.. Once again, he made THE event of the weekend and really benefits from a real dynamic that could go on and on for the remaining two weeks.