French Presidential election suddenly gets unpredictable

French Presidential election suddenly gets unpredictable, by John Rubino.

February polling … shows Le Pen getting the most votes in the first round, but then – when mainstream voters coalesce around her opponent – losing by around 60% – 40%. The establishment gets a bit of a scare but remains firmly in power, no harm no foul. …

Then came the past month’s debates in which a previously-overlooked communist candidate named Jean-Luc Mélenchon shook up the major candidates by pointing out how corrupt they all are. Voters liked what they heard and a significant number of them shifted his way. …

Mélenchon: Far-leftist surges in French polls, shocking the frontrunners, by Tracy McNicoll.

Suddenly, the grumpy far-leftist — a showman in a Chairman Mao jacket who openly admired late Venezuelan populist leader Hugo Chavez — holds the mantle of France’s most popular politician. In the course of a whirlwind month, the 65-year-old Mélenchon surged nine spots to number one in weekly glossy Paris Match’s opinion poll. A full 68 percent of those surveyed hold “favourable opinions” of the far-left candidate, the poll by the Ifop-Fiducial firm showed. …

Mélenchon wants to quit NATO, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and block European trade treaties with the United States and Canada. He promises a French referendum on whether to stick with the reworked EU he is pledging to negotiate or leave the bloc altogether.

From the Washington Post:

It’s anyone’s race now. First round vote April 23 (Sunday), of which the top two go into the final vote on 7 May. Rubino again:

It’s still unlikely that both Le Pen and Mélenchon will make the run-off, but based on the above chart it’s suddenly possible. This would be the cultural equivalent of a Trump – Bernie Sanders race in the US, but with – believe it or not — even higher stakes because both Le Pen and Mélenchon would threaten the existence of both the euro and the European Union, the world’s biggest economic entity. …

When you screw up a country’s finances you take its politics along for the ride. In France, the right feels betrayed by open borders and excessive regulation, the left by an unaccountable elite that always seems to profit at everyone else’s expense. And both sides suffer from soaring debt at every level of society.

So if a fringe candidate doesn’t win this time around, the mainstream will just make an even bigger mess, raising the odds of a fringe victory next a few years hence