“The left is in a situation of unprecedented ideological fragility,” said Rémi Lefebvre, a professor of political science at the University of Lille. “In this context, being divided means suicide.”

The dismal state of the French left before April’s presidential elections was best encapsulated in a series of recent phone calls made by Arnaud Montebourg, a onetime Socialist government minister whose campaign for president has barely registered in the polls, reports the New York Times.

Mr. Montebourg posted several videos on Twitter of him making phone calls to four other left-wing candidates, all of whom are polling just as badly. It was an awkward last-chance bid to urge the Socialists, Greens, Communists and other leftists to unite behind a single presidential ticket or be crushed by the right and far-right in April.

No one picked up.

With the elections approaching, the left — once a mighty force in French politics — is now largely in tatters, and many of its most familiar faces seem incapable of the one thing that both experts and supporters say offers the only possible path to victory: unity.

In a country that is shifting to the right, the left has found itself voiceless on issues like securityimmigration and national identity, and it has failed to capitalize on the wave of protests over the environment and social justice that should have provided an opportunity to gain support.

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