Socialist Hidalgo fights to survive in French presidential election, PS to survive

French socialists are bracing for the worst electoral defeat in their modern history, and Anna Hidalgo, their candidate for the future mayor of Paris, could be made worse by that failure. The expectations for the first round of the presidential election, on April 10, are disastrous for Hidalgo: 2 to 3% of the vote, even under the communist candidate Fabien Russell.

If expectations are met, it will be a worse result than in 1969, when Gaston Defere, the SFIO candidate, leader of the Socialist Party (PS), got 5% of the vote. If it doesn’t reach 5%, the PS leaves nearly half of the campaign costs without funding those who cross that threshold. And that will push the socialists, who still have a solid municipal presence, to the brink of inconsistency in national politics and at risk of disappearing as an electoral brand.

“The Socialist Party will die,” predicts political scientist Gerard Grunberg, co-author. , A reference book on the history of PS. “I think it’s the end.”

Hidalgo – a pro-European social democrat, environmentalist and city councilor – is planning bad results for his future as mayor of Paris. He was comfortably re-elected in the 2020 municipal elections and his term will run until 2026, but his opponents are already cutting knives. “The night of the first round will open a deep crisis of legitimacy,” he predicted. Conservative Rachida Dati, his rival in the latest municipal elections. “Faced with such a refusal, Anna Hidalgo will not be able to lead one of the largest metropolises in Europe.”

Political scientist Grunberg argues that what is happening now is the culmination of what began in 2017, when centrist Emmanuel Macron came to power. A process that also seriously weakened the Republicans (LR), a moderate right-wing party that, together with the PS, shaped French politics for almost half a century. LR candidate in this presidential election, Valerie Pekres, although in better shape than Hidalgo, has several options to qualify for the second round. Opinion polls give him about 10% of the vote.

The fall of the PS – the party of François Mitterrand and successor to mythical figures such as Leon Bloom or Jean Jaurès – is more serious. Five years ago, he still controlled most of the levers of power in France: the presidency of the republic, the government, the national assembly, the big cities. There was still the first party on the left. Now only the cities remain; The hegemony of the left is in the hands of the populist Jean-Luc Melenchon.

Grunberg sees the causes of the current socialist agony. “In 2017,” he says, “the Socialist Party has already taken a near-fatal blow as its center-left voters went with Macron and the other party with Melenchon.” In the 2012 presidential election, the socialist François Hollande received 28.7% of the vote in the first round. In 2017, the same party candidate, Benoit Hamon, received 6.4% of the vote.

Election posters of socialist candidate Anna Hidalgo, current French president Emmanuel Macron and communist Fabien Russell in Cibur.Bob Edme (AP)

“When it goes that low and that low,” Grumberg analyzes, “it’s very hard to recover. “The Socialist Party has lost the credibility of the government and voters.” Grunberg points to another more immediate cause of the collapse: “Although it is now a small electoral party,” says the political scientist, “it is still divided: there has been no general reflection on what should have happened in these elections. .”

On the table was the possibility of a joint candidacy with environmental activists. It was wasted. And to keep the furniture, or try a miracle, the party turned to the figure of the greatest national projection: the mayor of Paris. “The problem,” Grunberg says, “is that Anne Hidalgo has overestimated her qualities and position.” But he explains, “Even a good candidate wouldn’t go beyond 3, 4 or 5 percent.”

Serge Rafi, biographer and weekly editor of Hidalgo and other political figures, notes: “Anna Hidalgo was in the train car heading for the abyss. Neither your personality nor your campaign is in question. This fact must be taken into account.” Rafi warns against hasty obituaries from the SP. “We don’t know what’s going to happen,” he says. Of course, maneuvers are already underway today to bring back the Socialist Party and create a political force.

One of those who stepped forward to play a part in the new PS is former President Hollande. “There is still a lot to be built, even after the elections,” he told EL PAÍS in February. In the same interview, he said: “I am a socialist, I will vote for a socialist candidate.”

Another former president, Nicolas Sarkozy, did not follow suit and today he is in the spotlight for still not expressing his support for LR, the candidate of the party he founded, Pekres, a week before the elections. † Sarkozy never liked to lose.

Source: La Neta Neta