So there will be ten candidates in the presidential election. Three of them—Sarkozy, Hollande, Bayrou—aspire to the presidency. An additional three—Le Pen, Mélenchon, Joly—know they have no chance of being elected and don’t even wish to be, but represent established political formations occupying a distinct segment of the political spectrum and have a vocation to be present, to use the presidential campaign as a tribune to advance their respective causes. One candidate—Dupont-Aignan—is an independent—with no party behind him—but has a mission and message (right-wing, orthodox Gaullist anti-EU souverainisme). Then there are the ultras and flakes: the Trotskyists Poutou and Arthaud, and the LaRouche cultist Cheminade.
My blogging confrère Art Goldhammer, commenting on the situation, poses a question:
How is it that Jacques Cheminade, Philippe Poutou, and Nathalie Arthaud, who collectively might have one percent in the polls, can round up 500 signatures but Dominique de Villepin, a former prime minister, can’t, and Marine Le Pen, polling at 17%, claims she had difficulty? This is a nominating system that makes no sense to me.
The answer: Poutou, Arthaud, and Cheminade had organizations—however groupusculaire—behind them. All it takes is two or three dozen dedicated Trot militants or LaRouche cultists to crisscross la France profonde, meet with village mayors, and convince them to pledge. Villepin didn’t have that. He was bereft of a party or organization and clearly had no interest in building one. He did launch a political movement in 2010 comprised of his fans, République Solidaire, and to great fanfare, but then watched as some of its principal figures defected to Sarkozy. And then Villepin himself quit the leadership of RS, of a movement he founded and for the sole purpose of advancing his presidential ambitions. C’est très sérieux ça…
So if Villepin couldn’t round up 500 signatures and is wondering why, he need only look in the mirror for the answer. As for Marine Le Pen’s difficulties, I addressed that a month ago here.
With all due respect to my blogging confrère, not only does the French system make sense but it needs to be reinforced. E.g. by raising the number of parrainages to, say, 700 or 800, to eliminate the ultras and flakes, who have no business contesting a presidential election. Their presence is a distraction and in view of the obligation of the broadcast media to cover them—a crazy rule that I’ll come back to—, a waste of the media’s and everyone else’s time.
UPDATE: So it seems that Dominique de Villepin in fact had more than enough parrainages to qualify for the ballot but didn’t want to face a humiliating result at the polls, so he made up a story. Tiens tiens…