Brussels (Brussels Morning) A French citizens’ initiative seeks to unite the balkanized vote of the left and center-left in the April presidential elections by planning to agree on a joint candidate for the nation’s left-wing voters.
The initiative, called Primaire Populaire (People’s Primary), has gathered around half a million participants so far, who will choose between seven potential candidates in a four-day online primary set to start today and conclude by Sunday.
The aim is to prevent the left-wing votes from spreading too thin by settling on a single candidate thereby enhancing the selected left-wing candidate’s chance of being a contender for the second round of French presidential elections.
The main problem right now seems to be that most of the major players involved – i.e. the most popular left-wing candidates – are unwilling to go along with the initiative. The Socialist Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, the far-left leader of France Unbowed (FI), Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and Greens’ leader Yannick Jadot have all stated publicly that they will ignore the outcome of the primary.
Only the former Socialist Justice Minister, Christiane Taubira, is willingly taking part, together with three far less popular candidates – environmental activist Anna Agueb-Porterie, public health expert Charlotte Marchandise, and Socialist MEP Pierre Larrouturou.
As France24 reports, the likely most lasting contribution of the initiative will be its how it allows voters to rank candidates individually, without pitting them against one another, and in this way helps determine the candidate with the best average grade, which presumably would also prove most acceptable to the wider electorate.
Some 500,000 voters participating in the People’s Primary will rate each candidate on a one-to-five mark basis – very good, good, fairly good, acceptable, and bad. In the event of a tie between the top candidates, a median rating will determine the winner.
When the system was tested last month by the Opinion Way polling agency, incumbent President Emmanuel Macron and the Republicans’ candidate Valerie Pécresse received the highest average grade, with Pécresse having a higher median rating.