Sunday, May 05, 2002

It seems popular to explain away votes for right-wing candidates, as if there could be no rational popular support for these candidates. This has been seen recently with Le Pen, a few years ago with Austria's Haider, and even with some moderate right-wing candidates in various countries. The denial takes different forms. With Le Pen, it was said that a "protest vote" (a vote against Chirac, not for Le Pen) accounts for his apparent popularity in the first round. Face reality -- an even larger 5.8 million voters in the second round wanted Le Pen to win. His popularity among those voters is not apparent, it's real.

Instead, why not ask if the apparent popularity of Chirac is due to comparison with Le Pen? A quote from a man among the crowds outside after the election indicates he was there not to celebrate Chirac's win, but for "l'occasion d'évacuer la colère d'avoir été obligé de voter Chirac" (ref). My rough translation: he was there to have an opportunity to release his anger at having been obliged to vote for Chirac.

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