United left could upend the narrative in French election twist

Author: Adam Button | Category: News

A new twist today in French politics

The French election may be setting up for a Right-Left showdown.

The theme at the moment is that Marine Le Pen will lose in the second round to either Macron or Fillon. Against either candidate she trails badly in polls.

In a potential twist today, neither might make it to the second round.

Here are how the polls currently look for the first round:

  • Le Pen 26%
  • Macron 20%
  • Fillon 18%

The usual narrative is that whoever finishes second will beat Le Pen in the head-to-head second round. Her support tops out at 40%.

However, the first round isn't yet decide and the candidates who are polling in fourth and fifth have talked about merging. Today in an interview with France Info, Socialist Party candidate Benoit Hamon (pictured above) said he's holding talks with far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon about a single candidacy, which would also include Green party candidate Yannick Jadot.

"What we need to discuss is the conditions under which we could come together and who in the end could -- between Yannick Jadot, Jean-Luc Melenchon and myself -- be best suited to embody the Left at the second round of the French presidential race with a program that could be shared," Hamon said

Hamon is polling at 14%, Melenchon at 11% and Jadot at 2%. If that vote held up, they would have enough support to finish in second place.

If so, it would pit the combined left against Le Pen in the final round. That would be a best-case scenario for Le Pen, because some of the centrist votes might break her way.

Either way, French politics would be more divided. Hamon is from Hollande's party but he represents the far left of the party and his central policy is guaranteed minimum income.

If that weren't enough drama, Macron is fighting off a smear campaign.

"There is a very wealthy gay lobby behind him," Nicolas Dhuicq, a conservative member of Parliament, told Russian news agency Sputnik. "That says it all. The controversial details of his personal life and ties [will] soon become public." More on that here.