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  • Melenchon, 65, founded the Left Party in 2008 after 35 years in the currently-governing Socialist Party.

    Melenchon, 65, founded the Left Party in 2008 after 35 years in the currently-governing Socialist Party. | Photo: AFP

With four weeks left in the race, 17 percent of voters are currently expected to vote for the leftist candidate. In January, he was polling at just 10 percent.

With just 17 days left before the first round of France's presidential election, French leftist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon has received a major boost from one poll that indicates a significant boost in his popularity after he impressed during a presidential debate earlier in the week.

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Shortly after his performance during the presidential debate on Tuesday night, the former Socialist senator — who split with the Socialist Party in 2008 and founded his own Left Party — was reportedly the most convincing candidate according to several polls.

A couple of days later, a YouGov survey for the Huffington Post and CNews confirmed the trend, finding a popularity surge from 24 percent to 38 percent for Melenchon, while all the other candidates dropped.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who was ranked first last month with 28 percent, lost three points while conservative Francois Fillon lost two more points from an already low 15 percent.

More interestingly, Melenchon seems to have finally become a consensus candidate across the political spectrum.

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According to a BVA-La Tribune-Orange poll released on Thursday, he manages to appeal to voters from the far-right National Front with a pro-refugee, anti-bank discourse. He gained 18 more points among the progressive electorate and nine points from right-wing supporters.

In the first round of the 2012 presidential vote, Melenchon finished fourth with 11.1 percent, a disappointment compared with the 15 percent projected in polls.

In this election, 17 percent of voters are currently expected to vote for the leftist candidate, compared to Fillon's 19, and both Le Pen and Macron's 23.5. However, momentum is certainly in Melenchon's favor: in January he was polling at just 10 percent.

Many possibilities remain in the four last weeks of the campaign, with 78 percent of the leftist voters hoping for an improbable alliance between Melenchon and socialist candidate Benoit Hamon — who represents the leftist opposition to President Francois Hollande within the Socialist Party.

Abstention is likely to play an important role in the election as 47 percent of voters still don't know who they will vote for.

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