Archive for the 'Coalition' Category


France’s next president: Hollande is sunk but who will follow him?

Monday, July 18th, 2016


The battle for the Élysée will be between the centre-right and the far-right

Complacency has been the bane of the established political class across the Western world these last few years; a bad habit it doesn’t seem capable of kicking. Time and again, outsiders have shaken up the order, from Tsipras in Greece to Labour electing Corbyn to Trump taking the Republican nomination to Bernie Sanders running Hillary close to the UK voting for Brexit. Parties and electorates have been in revolt – though not always simultaneously.

Will France be next? It’s now only a little over nine months to the first round of the presidential election – about the same time as from Iowa to the general election in America – and it’s a question we should ask.

Before we do, we should recognise the effect of Thursday’s attack. France has now suffered within the last year alone, two of the fifteen deadliest terrorist attacks in Europe’s history. Despite that, France is a resilient country that has suffered and come through even worse before – this year marks the centenary of Verdun as well as the Somme – and it’s notable that after last November’s attacks, the opinion polls barely twitched.

Even so, three attacks in eighteen months, including the Charlie Hebdo killings, must create both a nervousness and an increasing desire to blame someone, which inevitably means someone else. That this latest outrage appears to be a low-tech assault by a lone actor is all the more disconcerting: there is no evil guiding mastermind, hunkered in his mountain lair to ‘take out’, no terrorist organisation to track down, engage and destroy. There is, however, the uncomfortable knowledge that it might easily happen again.

Does that play into the hands of the far right? In one sense, yes: populist politicians offer simple solutions to complex problems, which an electorate can easily turn to if they come to believe that the complex solutions being offered up by the mainstream are ineffective at best and a smokescreen for their own incompetence at worst. But France isn’t quite there yet.

What is clear is that the country has practically given up on Francois Hollande, who is polling a miserable 13-15% in the first round. For comparison, five years ago, Sarkozy was polling in the mid-20s – and of course he went on to lose.

Whether Hollande will even make it on to the ballot paper is open to question. No president of the Fifth Republic who’s sought re-nomination has yet been denied it but then none has been as unpopular as the current incumbent. He should though. The Socialists hold their national primary in January and as yet, Hollande is the only serious contender. It’s true that the 38-year old Minister of the Economy, Emmanuel Macron, polls a good deal better than either his PM or his president but you’d think that at his age, better to wait five years when there should be an open nomination either way.

The bigger question lies on the centre-right, where two heavyweight candidates are contesting the nomination of the newly-renamed Republicans: former president Nicholas Sarkozy and one-time prime minister, Alain Juppé.

This, unfortunately, is where it gets complicated. France’s party structure is fluid and there’s a delicate game being played which interlinks who the candidates will be for each party with which parties will contest in their own right and which will form alliances. Most significantly, the centrist party MoDem, led by François Bayrou, seems likely to contest the election if Sarkozy is the Republican’s pick but will sit it out if it’s Juppé.

Why does that matter? Put simply, because Bayrou is potentially Marine Le Pen’s ticket to the Élysée Palace. The Front National, under Marine’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, reached the second round against Jacques Chirac in 2002 but in that case, the left rode in – deeply unhappily – behind the president. That will not necessarily go the other way round. For a start Le Pen fille is polling considerably better than le Pen père did, consistently scoring in the high twenties.

More importantly, it’s possible that a Bayrou candidature might split the centre-right in a reverse of 2002 and let Hollande onto the ballot. He wouldn’t on current polling – Sarkozy typically leads Hollande by about 7-8% for second place – but with nine months to go, the possibility is there. Were it to come about, the polls suggest it would be very tight, with several giving her the lead (amid massive abstentions or spoilt papers).

That possibility remains thin, certainly much thinner than the 4/1 she’s best-priced at (though those odds alone tell a frightening story). Consequently, the value lies with Juppé at 7/4; he should be close to odds-on. If it is to be Le Pen, she needs three things to come together: firstly, Sarkozy to defeat Juppé in the Republican primary, whereas every poll this year has given the older man a lead of at least 18%; then the first round would need to split to give Le Pen a beatable opponent – which so far is only Hollande and he’s well back in third or fourth; and finally she’d need to win the run-off, which would currently be a toss-up. All else being equal, I’d make that nearer 20/1.

However, all else isn’t necessarily equal. Those suggested odds assume that Le Pen’s base vote remains at the 25-30% she’s currently winning. And that would be a complacent assumption.

David Herdson


So the changeover begins

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016
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    YouGov CON member ratings of the three still in the race raise questions over Gove

    Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

    But very good for May

    In its recent party membership polling YouGov has introduced a ratings question with a simple format “Generally speaking, do you have a positive or negative opinion of the following people?”

    In the context of the fight for Number 10 this might have quite a bearing. What’s interesting is to look at responses based on how those sampled voted in the referendum. May rates at 89%-2% amongst remainers but still a respectable 67%-17% with leavers.

    Leadsom, who is much less known, has far more don’t know coming out with 67%-5% with leavers and 17%-41% with remainers. Gove’s figures are 43%-42% with leavers and 13% to 73% with remainers.

    All this suggests is that the Home Secretary is in with a very good chance if these findings are a pointer to how members will vote if there is a postal ballot.

    Mike Smithson


    The chronology suggests that the momentum is with Leadsom

    Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

    Lead May

    Could there be an effort to see that she doesn’t make the final 2?

    One aspect of the two member surveys that we had overnight is that all the ConHome one was carried out yesterday while the YouGov poll fieldwork started on Friday and went through till yesterday. Given we know that most responses tend to come in during the first period of fieldwork then YouGov was probably more influenced by Friday and Saturday respondents than Sunday and Monday.

    The ConHome survey, where participants are self-selecting party members, all happened yesterday after a period when the focus started to turn on Leadsom with the other leading “outer”, Gove, being pilloried right across the board in the media. For many members, I’d suggest, it has only been in the past couple of days that they’ve been made aware of Leadsom.

    ConHome “polls”, as I’ve argued many times here, cannot be compared to surveys carried out by major pollsters. But we can compare one ConHome survey to previous ones carried out using their same approach. A week ago May on 29% was 1% ahead of Boris with Leadsom on 13%. So in the space of a week on this methodology she has tripled her support. Boris of course is not now on the list.

    CON MPs, who’ve been described as the “world’s most sophisticated electorate”, vote today in 1st round of the their leadership contest.

      I wonder if in subsequent rounds there’ll be an effort to try to squeeze Leadsom out of the top two by May supporters tactically voting for whoever looked best able to impede the climate change minister. This, of course, is what happened to Michael Portillo in 2001.

    My current view is that if it is Leadsom versus May in the Members’ ballot then the former is in with a very good chance. It’ll be a bit like Corbyn versus Burnham where the former appealed to the selectorate’s “heart”.

    Mike Smithson


    Leadsom leads in new CONHome survey of party members

    Monday, July 4th, 2016


    Will we get the same picture from YouGov?

    ConHome has published the results of a new survey of CON members. This is NOT a proper poll but CONHome can point to how close their member survey was in 2005 getting Cameron’s victory margin almost dead on.

    The results were:-

    Leadsom 38%
    May 37%
    Gove 13%
    Crabb 6%
    Fox 5%

    Whatever this looks very close between May and Leadsom who between secured 75% of the support.

    We do know that CON members are more LEAVE than CON voters as a whole and Leadsom looks set to be the BREXIT choice following Johnson’s exit.

    There’s supposed to be a YouGov members’ poll in the pipeline and hopefully we will see the results before tomorrow’s voting starts amongst CON MPs.

    Mike Smithson


    On an explosive day the latest CON leader betting and charts

    Thursday, June 30th, 2016

    Prices updated every few minutes


    Huge YouGov boost for Theresa May on the night before nominations close

    Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

    The first poll of members has big CON member backing for the Home Secretary

    Let us lust remind ourselves how the CON leadership election works. There will be a series of secret ballot of MPs until they get down to a final two – then the choice will be made by party members in a postal ballot.

    So of all the polls the ones we should pay most attention are those tonight from YouGov which has very good news for May and disappointing news for the long term front-runner, Mr. Johnson.

    Of course it might be that these will not be the final two and in the past the Tory election process has thrown up surprises. In 2001 the big favourite, Michael Portillo, did not make the final cut and the Tories ended up with IDS who was ousted two years later.

    I think that Johnson suffers from not having been a cabinet minister and in this election the party is choosing the next PM.

    Mike Smithson


    Remain retain their lead with ComRes. Just.

    Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

    If this poll is accurate, the UK is Never Gonna Give EU Up

    As with other recent referendum polls there’s been a big swing to Leave, it is a reflection of the poor position Remain find themselves in that they’ll be delighted with a 1% per cent lead.

    The primary reasons I’m so interested in ComRes’ phone polls is that they were the only phone pollster to have the Tories consistently ahead at the last general election, and their turnout model, which they’ve worked so hard to develop, as turnout is the thing I’m struggling most to call in this referendum, as I have huge doubts about other polls with self-certifying turnout.

    I do feel sorry for both campaigns, when the supplementaries give contradictory findings

    We also asked voters how much economic pain they were prepared to suffer to break free of Brussels control.

    In a contradictory finding, three in five Brits – 61% – say that they would be willing to accept a short term economic slowdown in order to see EU immigration controls tightened, which Brexit would allow.

    But a significant majority of more than two thirds – 68% – at the same time insist they are not willing to lose any cash at all personally to reduce the number of migrants coming in from Europe.

    What it is interesting of the recent polls, the Leave leads appear to be quite large, but Remain’s leads appear to be tepid, Opinium and ComRes have Remain’s lead at 2 and 1 per cent respectively. All eyes now the phone polls from Ipsos Mori & Survation which come out on Thursday.