France's biggest daily bans polls
The French newspaper Ouest-France has announced that it will not conduct any polls for the 2022 presidential election on the grounds that they distract from the essential issues. With the exception of the free papers, Ouest-France is the French daily with the highest circulation. Can this move strengthen democracy and the culture of debate?
Restore direct contact with citizens
Ouest-France's editor-in-chief François-Xavier Lefranc calls for a new political dialogue:
“The poll mania prevents politicians - and the media - from listening to the diversity of the country, its inhabitants and its regions. It blinds us and lulls us into illusions. ... Democracy is fragile. We are too ready to think that it is solid enough to withstand the test of time, even when it is fatigued. ... However, the rapid increase in populist, hateful and extremist statements should keep us on our toes. Reinforcing democracy is not achieved by consulting 'representative panels' but by listening to individuals. There is an urgent need to create a new political space for direct contact with citizens.”
Important not to ignore public opinion
A little more caution, please, warns La Libre Belgique:
“Make no mistake! Democracy, by definition, requires those in power to take the pulse of the population: a regular 'barometer' or spot polls are means - among others - to do so. This does not mean, however, that politicians should let polls dictate their actions and drop a necessary decision if it proves unpopular. ... Governance should not be limited to seeking public favour. ... To prevent this, polls need to be contextualised by countering their omnipresence and omnipotence.”