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The French Middle Class On The Presidential Campaign

A new survey conducted by Free Thinking, the Paris-based strategic planning and research arm of MSLGROUP, has revealed the public perceptions on the recent presidential campaign in France. This analysis goes beyond the generic election surveys that tend to focus on socio-economic issues and instead shares with us a deeper understanding of the contemporary French citizen.

The primary aim of this survey was to understand how middle-class French received the presidential campaign and how they evaluated the contestants and their proposals. Read the original survey in French here (PDF).

This was the sixth survey conducted by MSLGROUP France between February 23 and March 5, 2012. A total of 134 French middle class citizens shared their opinions on our collaborative platform Freethinking.fr and a total of 986 comments were posted, which the study summarized into five points:

  1. People Are Skeptical, Yet Involved
  2. Polarization Of Nicolas Sarkozy As President
  3. Francois Hollande: Embodies Change At Hand
  4. Other Candidates: Who Will Stay In The Game?
  5. The Issue Of Values

 

In a quick interview, Xavier Charpentier (who along with Véronique Langlois, founded Free Thinking) takes us through the developments in discussions and thoughts of the people of France since the last survey was conducted, the reactions of the youth of France and more:

Véronique Langlois (L) and Xavier Charpentier (R)

What is new about the survey?

 

What is new, fundamentally, is the way French voters look at the political offer. There is still a lot of defiance, but the will to choose, although the candidates are not that trustworthy for the citizens. People still don’t believe what is being said, but they want to believe that things can be changed. This is sort of a French paradox.

How are the youth of France responding to the presidential campaigns? Are they politically active?

We haven’t specifically engaged young people in our conversations. But we have had some of them in our community. What is clear is that they suffer a lot under the current economic situation, which leads them to look at radical solutions. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, for instance, is one of the possible solutions for them. Their thoughts are: “It’s so hard to find a proper job, an affordable place to live and get a proper place in the society, and I have nothing to lose. So why not change everything?”

What are the top 3 traits that the French middle class wants in a president?

Integrity: Moral integrity and honesty. They want a real and visible dedication to the general interest.
Simplicity: Being close to the people, being like them.
Courage: The ability to decide and say no, both inside the country and outside it.

I would also like to add that this combination of Integrity, Simplicity + Courage defines the “real Republican”, sort of a First Consul full of “virtus”, as in the Roman ages (or Napoleonic period :)  ).

What were the reactions to the previous editions of this survey?

Such surveys are about getting in touch with the real people and their words. It is always a positive, enriching experience.

In an age where the general public and government have many differences in opinion, what is needed to bridge the gap?

I think sincerity is the need of the hour.

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