Polls put François Fillon and Emmanuel Macron neck and neck to qualify for the second voting round of the French presidential election in May. Whoever gets the most support in the first round would face off with the far right’s Marine Le Pen in the second.
That could change if the candidates on the left managed to set aside their differences and unite around one man.
Benoît Hamon, the mainstream Socialist Party candidate, said in a radio interview on Friday that he was reaching out to the far left’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the Green party candidate, Yannick Jadot, in order to discuss a single candidacy.
The three men are polling at 15, 12 and 2 percent support, respectively, for the first voting round in April.
Fillon and Macron, who both advocate liberal economic reforms, are polling at 20 percent support each.
Le Pen consistently polls at around 26 percent. But she is projected to lose the second voting round no matter whom she faces there. (Although nobody appears to have tested a hypothetical Le Pen-Mélenchon contest yet.)
That means Fillon and Macron currently stand the best chance of succeeding François Hollande.
The good news for the French center is that a left-wing unity ticket is still unlikely.
Hamon, representing one of France’s two major political parties, could hardly play second fiddle to Mélenchon and Mélenchon has a big ego. He has said he will not even sit down with Hamon to discuss a single candidacy unless the Socialist denounces his former boss, Hollande, and expresses support for Mélenchon’s Euroskeptic position.
Mélenchon regards the European Union as a neoliberal project. He wants to take France out of NATO and introduce a 100-percent income tax on earnings over €360,000 to finance a massive redistribution of wealth.
All of which goes way too far for the Socialists.