Paris.- In the run up to the French presidential elections, we had the opportunit
y to get a deeper analysis from Gaspard Estrada, Executive Director of the SciencesPo Observatory for Latina America and the Caribbean. What can we expect from the French polls given the results in the UK, the US and the Netherlands during the past year? What can we make of the mistrust in polling?
One of the difficulties to make any predictions about the French elections is the recent questioning of surveying’ credibility. According to Gaspard Estrada, the main reason why electoral results in Israel (2015), the UK (2015) and the US (2016) differed so much from what the surveys had forecasted comes down to lower budgets and data collection defficiencies. Pressure to reduce costs –in part driven by the “uberization” of the market– has led many polling companies to reduce face to face surveys, relying more on internet and telephone and reducing sample sizes. Against this backdrop, the electoral campaign of candidates like Emmanuelle Macron is playing to use his popularity as a self-fulfilling prophecy, regardless of the accuracy of the data
On the other hand, the French traditional system of two political parties has officially come to an end, testing the limits of the electoral system. General disenfranchisement towards the political class has eroded the legitimacy of traditional parties: the Parti Socialiste and the Les Republicains. The alignment of the presidential and legislative mandates has consolidated the presidential nature of the government, further blurring the lines between the institutions and potentially expanding the disapproval towards all of them. The strategy of both the Front Nationale and Macron’s En Marche –who at the moment seem the most likely to make it to the first round– is precisely to put the system to its limits and present themselves as the only potential candidates. Whoever wins, the most likely event is that forces both on the right and left of the political spectrum will need to reconfigure themselves after the elections, and it is likely to happen around the candidates that make it to the second round.
We will all follow closely the French elections, which could be determinant at this historical moment where the multilateral system seems to stand at the crossroads.