`False prophets' trawl for excuses
FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: The Pollsters
All seven main polls taken at the end of last week predicted that Jacques Chirac would come out on top with between 23 and 26 per cent (he got 20.7 per cent). Only a poll by the police intelligence service came anywhere near predicting the Socialist Lionel Jospin's first place score (it had him at 21.5 per cent; he got 23.3 per cent).
Politicians and newspapers rounded on the pollsters yesterday. Edouard Balladur's main strategist, the Budget Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, called the result "a formidable defeat for the poll institutes". Le Monde described them as "false prophets".
Part of the vehemence of the criticism may have been prompted by the way in which both politicians and the media were led by the polls throughout the campaign. The sheer volume of published surveys - more than 70 during the campaign - led everybody to believe that Mr Chirac would finish in first place on Sunday. Even Mr Jospin, who topped the voting, was reported to have believed that he could not come first on the basis of the poll findings.
Several things appear to have caused the problem. There was the high number - up to 30 per cent - of don't knows. There was the reluctance of some voters to admit that they were going to back the National Front. There was the high level of volatile protest votes, and there appears to have a been a late move away from Mr Chirac to Mr Balladur and the National Front's Jean-Marie Le Pen.
France's biggest selling newspaper, Ouest-France, said in its editorial that democracy had at last triumphed over "pollecracy", but that the result was an election which bore witness to the strength of the protest vote.
The theme of a splintered country lacking confidence in its leaders was taken up in many of yesterday's editorials. Franz-Olivier Giesbert, editor of Le Figaro, said the French were looking for "simple, virile solutions" and that 40 per cent of voters did not find a natural home in any of the traditional parties.
There has never been an election at which social concerns had been so clearly reflected in politics, the analyst Alain Duhamel said on Europe- 1 Radio, while the Catholic newspaper, La Croix, saw a country "in disarray, seeking, on every side, a path to follow".
- 1 Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin file for divorce after 10 years of marriage
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor David Dinsmore reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
- 4 Bookies now say Ed Miliband is more likely to be prime minister than David Cameron
- 5 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin file for divorce after 10 years of marriage
Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor David Dinsmore reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
'Jihadi John': Isis executioner Mohammed Emwazi wanted to wage jihad in Somalia until his friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
Parma, Missouri: 80 per cent of town's police quit after first black mayor is elected
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
Katie Hopkins on LBC: Listen to caller taking The Sun columnist to task over migrant comments
£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are looking for a highly or...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultan...
£22000 - £25900 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company is expanding and th...
£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Corporate Account Manager is ...