Sunday, April 22, 2012

In France, the Socialists' François Hollande Is Using Lessons From Barack Obama's 2008 Campaign

Arthur Muller, Vincent Pons and Guillaume Liegey, young Frenchmen who met in Cambridge, Mass., at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and M.I.T., are working hard to get out the vote, American-style, for the Socialist challenger for the French presidency, François Hollande
reports Steven Erlanger.
For the last few months, they have been working to recruit and train 70,000 volunteers to knock on almost 3.5 million doors. Having witnessed the successful campaign of President Obama, they are back in France, using American models of canvassing to get left-leaning voters who would normally abstain to instead cast ballots. Their work, said Mr. Liegey, 31, is concentrated in the banlieues, poorer suburbs heavily populated with ethnic minorities, where alienation and abstention are high.

… “When we saw what Obama had done, the very systematic way of door-to-door campaigning and the way he used the Internet to coordinate volunteers, we thought, ‘How can we do that in France?’ ” said Mr. Pons, 28.

… The two main candidates are already thinking ahead to the second round. Mr. Sarkozy is hoping to come first on Sunday, to get new momentum for the next two weeks. The traditional French understanding is that in the first round, people vote with their hearts, and in the second round, with their heads. And the second round, barring surprises, should be a classic French fight between the left and the right.