Does poll inflation harm democratic life?

Politics France Elections Polling Station, Brussels, Belgium – 24 Apr 2022

“Polls: Challenge or Opportunity for Democracy? Vast question which tried to answer, this Monday, October 17, a colloquium organized in the Senate, under the aegis of the senator of the Landes Éric Kerrouche, around the impact of the opinion polls on the electoral life. A few months after the presidential and the legislative elections, this elected official, member of the law commission, wanted to come back “coldly”, according to his formula, on the role of the polls in the last electoral sequence. “Each time, we discuss the polls, their effects, their influence, the way they are done, possibly the difficulties that this can cause when there are poll bubbles, such as the one we had. in the fall of 2021 around the candidacy of Éric Zemmour”, summarizes Éric Kerrouche with Public Sénat. Around the table: heads of polling institutes, political scientists, researchers… and a first observation: the growing appetite of commentators and voters for opinion polls.

Since 1981, the number of polls devoted to the presidential election has continued to increase. Going from a hundred to more than 500 in forty years. The Survey Commission counts 409 for the 2012 presidential election, 560 for that of 2017 – a record year – and 467 in 2022. This slight drop for the last presidential election is explained by the absence of open primaries, and the impossibility for institutes to have access to party files.

Behind the proliferation of polls, a shaken political system

“The large number of polls around the presidential election is rather a good thing, they reflect the desire to highlight the expression of citizens, their desires”, notes Laure Salvaing, the general manager of Kantar Public France. Director General of Ifop, Frédéric Dabi insists on “the unbreakable link” between polls and democratic life. “In June 1940 (…) Read more on Public Senate

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