The “Hunger Games” aspect of this French election cycle began on the left: While President François Hollande was brought down by his own Socialist Party, his prime minister, Manuel Valls, became the second course at the cannibals’ banquet.
By then, the corpse of one of France’s two major parties, no longer merely supine, had reached an advanced state of decomposition. Now, at the very moment when one might expect a presidential candidate to tell the nation what he thinks of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and Islamic radicals, the wan Socialist candidate Benoît Hamon has found nothing better to talk about than red sludge, endocrine disruptors and legalizing marijuana.
On the right, the disaster is now just cresting. Early on, former president Nicolas Sarkozy was eliminated. Former Prime Minister Alain Juppé, after being crowned the virtual president for much of last year, was toppled by those who had adored him. And in the wake of the scandal surrounding François Fillon, the Republican nominee and the man who defeated him, Mr. Juppé lost his nerve and on March 6 definitively quit the race.
Mr. Fillon, once the clear frontrunner and the choice of four million primary voters, has now brought forth the spectacle of a party of mutineers seeking to nudge him out of the race. Schemes, evasions, calculations, and bargains multiply – all based on polls interpreted by the political equivalents of astrologists. Another corpse.