The Atlantic

The Fall of the French Left

With Benoît Hamon’s defeat, his Socialist Party may be obsolete.
Source: Regis Duvignau

In the first round of a French presidential election, there will, naturally, always be more losers than winners. But until Sunday, the Socialist Party had lost in the initial round only once before: in 2002, when incumbent President Lionel Jospin unexpectedly finished a close third, behind a surprise surge from the National Front’s leader (FN), Jean-Marie Le Pen.  

This year, independent-centrist Emmanuel Macron and Jean-Marie’s daughter, Marine, now leader of the FN herself, will move on to the final round on May 7. The Socialist candidate, Benoît Hamon, finished an unprecedented fifth. His loss feels very different from Jospin’s of 15 years ago, and not only because his paltry share of the vote was so much lower—just over 6 percent compared to Jospin’s 16.

What is even more striking than the result itself is that, unlike in 2002, this crushing

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic6 min readNutrition
American Nostalgia On A Bun
The burger, shake, and fries—“enduring icons of American cuisine”— are used to symbolize abundance, accessibility, and dominance while ignoring the dark side of those values.
The Atlantic4 min readPolitics
Trump Throws Ronny Jackson Under the Bus
The president appears ready to blithely sacrifice his nominee for veterans affairs secretary as part of a long-running war against the Senate confirmation process.
The Atlantic4 min readPolitics
Democrats Hope For Another Upset in Arizona
The Grand Canyon state’s 8th congressional district is unlikely to flip from red to blue, but a close race could still spell trouble for Republicans in November.