Another Fracture, This Time in France

François Fillon Source:
François Fillon

Brexit, President-elect Trump and now François Fillon in the front row since the first round of the French Republican primaries. In each case, research institutes have failed to forecast the outcome. And it is not a triffling incident.

Indeed, Alain Juppé was presented as the clear winner of these elections, perhaps even of the 2017 presidential elections, while Fillon remained far behind him, Sarkozy and in some scenarios Bruno Le Maire. What happened was baffling: Fillon was elected with 44.2% of the popular vote, while Juppé received 28.6%. Sarkozy’s 20.9% ejected him from the race, along with Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet (2.6%), Bruno Le Maire (2.4%) and Jean-Frédéric Poisson (1.5%) and Jean-François Copé (0.5%). A record of approximately three million people voted during this first round, making it more popular than the French Socialist primaries of 2011.

Such results challenge the authority of both surveys and the media. Instead of neutrality, these entities indeed demonstrate their blatant social bias. After the Brexit referendum and Trump’s election, the gap between poll’s estimations and reality is so wide that one seriously starts to doubt how well they understand voters. Clearly, the results show that two parallel worlds are at work: people have voted despite the unanimous prognostics.

Hence perhaps the usual treatment of this apparently “new” tendency: shaming. Fillon voters are roughly described the same way as Trump or Brexit supporters: white, elderly and conservative Catholics: the horror! According to the media, Trump is the new Hitler and Fillon is the new Thatcher, if not the antechamber to Marine Le Pen’s party (despite their differing agendas).

Selling these candidates as hell on earth will only confirm the voters’ distrust in the media. Perhaps even more problematic, it seems that research institutes are tendentious; how could these prestigious institutions fail to foresee a gap of more than 20% between Juppé and Fillon? Behind a facade of neutrality, this could be a case of self-fulfilling prophecy; in other words, an attempt at forcing a certain viewpoint on the public.

Beside such theories, it is indeed because polls and journalists fail to grasp, or continue to chastise, the needs of the conservative demographic that they end up ignoring reality. In a democratic society, however, the only reality is the voice of the people, which was expressed clearly in this first round of elections.