Across France teams of Socialist activists are knocking on doors and talking to voters, in a door-to-door campaign inspired by US President Barack Obama’s successful 2008 campaign.
FRANCE 24 joined a small team of Socialist Party (PS) canvassers working the suburbs of Nimes in southern France as the country gears up for the second round of the presidential election on May 6.
Locally, there is much at stake for the PS. Nimes is the main city in the Gard – the only administrative region in France where far-right candidate Marine Le Pen came top in the first round of the presidential vote.
Incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy will face off against PS candidate Francois Hollande in the second round, and although polls give Hollande a ten-point lead, much still depends on how Le Pen’s supporters choose to vote.
The PS activists are leaving nothing to chance.
Beaming optimism and big smiles
Their approach and strategy is surprisingly American in a country where door-to-door canvassing is virtually unknown. For the first time in a presidential campaign, the socialist-party has organised a large-scale effort to draw in left-wing sympathisers who might have otherwise abstained, drawing inspiration from the Obama canvassing method.
Activists are furnished with lists of households in overwhelmingly left-voting neighbourhoods that have abstained from voting in previous elections (not the names) and these form the core of the highly coordinated strategy to target undecided voters.