The French left's controversial online vote

Former Justice Minister Christiane Taubira has won the unofficial online primaries to choose a left-wing candidate for the French presidential elections. But the candidates already nominated by the left parties are refusing to recognise the result of the "Popular Primary" organised by a citizens' initiative, and say they will continue their candidacy. The national press takes different views of popular online vote.

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Le Monde (FR) /

Destructive civic engagement

The popular primaries do not live up to their democratic aspirations, warns Françoise Fressoz, editorialist for Le Monde:

“The procedure was so opaque from start to finish that it's difficult for the organisers to reply to the suspicions, widespread among party leaders, that everything had been worked out for the benefit of just one person, namely Christiane Taubira. And that's the most disturbing thing about experiments meant to give citizens a voice: they aim not so much to bolster democracy by pointing out new ways to get involved, but simply to destroy representative democracy in the name of a popular will whose limitations remain glaring.”

The Conversation (FR) /

Left can't be written off yet

The left still has a chance, political economist Olivier Guyottot writes in The Conversation France, pointing out that the left's current 16 percent of the vote is enough to get it into the second round of voting:

“If in the weeks to come one left-wing candidate manages to overtake the others, he or she could probably come very close to such a share of the votes. ... Twenty years after [Socialist] Lionel Jospin was eliminated by Jean-Marie Le Pen [Front National], it cannot be entirely ruled out that this time a left-wing candidate will benefit from the divide in the far right and the relative weakness of the forces contesting it to qualify for the second round. ... Perhaps this also partly explains the position of the left-wing candidates already in the running.”