French Presidential elections: Only 3% to the Green candidate, according to polls
This opinion article is by Yoav Shemer Kunz – Strasbourg
The Green candidate to the presidential elections in France, Eva Joly, has a bad time in the French public opinion. Recent polls give the Green candidate only around 3% of the votes in the first round of presidential elections on the 22nd of April.
What went wrong?
It is true that Green candidates in presidential elections in France never did very well: in general between 3% to 5%, and only 1.5% in 2007. But the announced results this time are below the French Greens’ high hopes and their scores in the last few years: The Green list ‘Europe Ecologie’ gained a historical success in the 2009 European elections, 16%, and around 12% in the 2010 regional elections. It successfully merged with the historical Green party in November 2010 to become ‘Europe Ecologie – Les Verts’, and all seemed to be on the right track. So it is difficult to say what is happening. The main idea expressed in the French press is that the French simply do not like Eva Joly, the Greens’ candidate. According to the press, the French people do not approve the personality of the former magistrate of Norwegian origin. Public opinion polls say the French estimate Joly to be ‘too radical’, her ideas ‘unrealistic’, and in general, ‘not nice’. The campaign staff try to show Joly in a positive way to the French public, but it seems to be too late. The Greens seem to be already ‘out of the race’. So what went wrong? One answer might be in the party’s choice of candidate for these elections.
A ‘Fundi’ candidate
In the internal primaries elections in the beginning of the summer the party members chose Eva Joly over Nicolas Hulot. Joly represented an ‘ecology of combat’, a radical ecology of principle and of ideology, of convictions and ‘telling the truth’, even if unpopular in the French public opinion. Her main rival in these primaries was Nicolas Hulot, a former television star, who is very known and popular in France, and enjoys a positive, charismatic image. Nicolas Hulot represented a ‘positive ecology’ or ‘ecology of compromise’, open and accessible to everyone. Hulot emphasized his national audience, popularity, capacity of convincing, high communication skills and experience in television. Joly’s supporters in the party denounced Hulot’s candidature as ‘marketing ecology’, too commercial and too much focused on winning popular support and obtaining an electoral success. They also judged Hulot’s ideas to be too mild, especially on the nuclear issue, and too close to the political canter. Using a German vocabulary, this was quite clearly a choice of a ‘Fundi’ over a ‘Realo’, a choice of ‘Green fundamentalism’ over ‘Real-politik’ and compromise.
Today, the French Greens are quite worried of this announced low result, which might have negative effects on the parliamentary elections of June and on their party’s future in general. When polls show 3%, or even less, two months before the presidential elections, even the French most radical ‘fundis’ might have their second thoughts.