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Exclusive polling: leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon ahead in French legislative race

An alliance of the left could deny Emmanuel Macron a parliamentary majority.

By Ido Vock

BERLIN – Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s united left alliance, the New Ecologic and Social People’s Union (Nupes), leads Emmanuel Macron’s faction, Ensemble (Together), in voting intentions ahead of the first round of parliamentary elections this Sunday (12 June).

A sample of two polls from YouGov and Cluster 17, combined by Datapraxis, shows that 28 per cent of voters intend to choose Nupes, ahead of Ensemble which polls 27 per cent. Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally polls 20 per cent, while the centre-right Republicans gain 9 per cent and Éric Zemmour’s smaller far-right Reconquest party polls 7 per cent.

The united left leads Macron’s party ahead of legislative elections
Voting intention for 2022 parliamentary elections
Source: YouGov and Cluster 17, combined by Datapraxis

The Nupes is composed of Mélenchon’s France Unbowed party, as well as a variety of smaller left-wing parties, including the Greens, Communists and Socialists. The alliance has campaigned on a message of winning a majority of 289 seats in parliament, thereby forcing Macron to appoint Mélenchon as prime minister.

YouGov’s poll was conducted by giving voters the actual names of the candidates standing in their constituencies, while Cluster 17 polled generic party names. The two samples were combined and weighted by Datapraxis, a political research group. “We used two pollsters for our own data because we think it makes most sense to think about a range of possibilities,” said Paul Hilder, the founder of Datapraxis.

Even if the Nupes wins more votes than Ensemble in the first round, it would not necessarily result in the left-wing alliance gaining the most seats. The vast majority of races will go to a run-off on 19 June, when some centre-right voters, spooked by the prospect of Mélenchon as prime minister, may back the president’s candidates to keep out the left.

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Many uncertainties remain, including how lower turnout will affect the result – legislative elections typically see about half of voters cast their ballots, compared with more than 70 per cent for presidential elections. National Rally voters typically turn out in comparatively lower numbers, further denting the party’s prospects.

The poll shows overwhelming opposition to the Nupes’s stated goal of making Mélenchon prime minister. Only 23 per cent agree that he should be prime minister, while 69 per cent disagree. Mélenchon’s polarising personality is clearly a factor in the low figures: 37 per cent agree with the statement that “we need a prime minister from the left”, with 40 per cent disagreeing.

Mélenchon’s history of pro-Russia positions has featured heavily in Macron’s attacks on him. In January this year, as Russia was amassing troops on its border with Ukraine, the would-be prime minister asserted that “for me, Russia is not an enemy but a partner”.

The Nupes has campaigned on policy issues including opposing Macron’s pledge to raise the retirement age to 65 and raising the minimum wage.

“By presenting Mélenchon as a prime ministerial candidate, the left raised the stakes and positioned themselves as his primary adversary,” Hilder said. “But we now find widespread rejection of the ‘Mélenchon premier ministre’ message, which is opposed even more than the idea of a majority for Macron.”

Forty per cent agree that Macron should get a majority in parliament, while 53 per cent disagree. Indeed, the left surge is more likely to deny Macron a majority than force him to appoint Mélenchon as prime minister. The lower bounds of recent seat projections have Macron’s party below the 289 threshold, which would force him to negotiate with political opponents and hand significant power to those on the right and left flanks of his parliamentary party.

[See also: Headache for Emmanuel Macron as support for the French left surges]

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