Presidential elections in France: disinterest grows in the run-up to elections where the extreme right could win

The extreme right, at least the polls show, has never been so close to the Elysée Palace. Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen close differences, for key elections for France and Europe. (GONZALO SOURCES/)

The French live this Saturday a day of reflection. Reservation hours before choosing. Last midnight he concluded a campaign for the first round of the presidential elections. Long for most aspiring Elysee Palaceshort for him President Emmanuel Macronwho was torn between the coronavirus pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The two crises, added to the growing apathy in Western societies, lead tomorrow Sunday to a first round threatened by a first danger: abstention. Estimates for the April 10 vote project a turnout that could be even lower than the lowest on record.

Besides, the mistakes or misadventures of the centrist Emmanuel Macron would mark another risk. At least, that’s what the polls predict. Never has the extreme right come so close to presiding over the first magistracy. In particular, Marine LePenthe candidate of National Group, even an applicant with public ties to Vladimir Putin comes in having significantly narrowed the gap. In his third candidacy, the idea of ​​a second-round victory no longer seems crazy.

The gap between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen has also been closing. The outgoing president has lost the advantage gained at the start of the war in Ukraine and sees the voting intentions in his favor decrease (26%, -2 points this week, -4 since mid-March), according to the majority of the public polls.

The invasion of Ukraine has been disappearing as a central axis among the French, with purchasing power, inflation and the deterioration of their welfare state being their greatest concerns. In fact, the war, at the time of the vote (place 11 now, after occupying 5th place at the beginning of March), caused Emmanuel Macron to see his role as leader in France and Europe diluted, at least in handling the crisis.

For the president, the five-year period that is ending has been absolutely stormy. Significant and structuring events, such as the “yellow vests” movement, the lockdowns due to Covid 19, the Islamist assassination of Samuel Paty and finally a war, even when France must preside over the European Council, have been disturbing for the effervescence of a society that seeks solutions to its daily demands.

The candidates who will be chosen tomorrow by the French, according to the main polls.  From midnight on Friday, hours of reflection, and the prohibition of any proselytizing act.
The candidates who will be chosen tomorrow by the French, according to the main polls. From midnight on Friday, hours of reflection, and the prohibition of any proselytizing act. (STAFF/)

Everything comes together so that abstention can be historic. In 2017, during the first round of the presidential elections, 77.8% of the French registered on the electoral lists went to vote. This year, abstention should be higher: the participation rate was estimated, this Friday, at 71%.

If confirmed, the data will be alarming for the Fifth Republic. Fewer than two out of three young people under the age of 35 (58%) want to vote tomorrow, Sunday. Even when young people have shown a preference for left-wing candidates, their absenteeism could harm the best of these candidates, and on the rise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon. A third of the electorate of this left-wing candidate, a highly fragmented political sector in the country, is made up of young people in this age group (34%). On the contrary, the young “macronistas” are the most numerous to reveal their intention to vote (81%), closely followed by the other leader of the extreme right, the former television polemicist, Eric Zemour (79%).

For the first “tour”, as the French refer to the first round, the polls mostly agree on the projections. Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, as in the 2017 presidential elections, will again occupy the first two positions. Published last Friday, the polls, for example that of Ifop, anticipate a voting intention of 26% for the president and 24% for his far-right opponent. In third place would be, with 17%, the leader of the populist left, Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

another conclusion, If the polls sound anticipatory, it is that the formations, Socialist Party, with Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris at the head, and the Republican Party, Valérie Pécresse, head of the Île-de-France region, would practically disappearor at least they would have a performance never seen before.

What will happen in the second round? If the signs of the first meeting materialize, Macron and Le Pen will arrive on Sunday, April 24, although Jean-Luc Melenchon insists that this first fight is not closed. But for any conclusion, it will be necessary to see how volatile the electorate is.

After several months of campaigning, the movements observed in recent days are generating doubts among voters. More than half of them (57%) believe that nothing is decided and admit that they still do not know who will win these elections. This figure rose 13 points in two weeks, and even 18 points in a month, while the majority considered that the bet was made on March 25 (55%).

So, on this basis, Although Macron would win the second round with 52% compared to 48% for Le Pen, the difference is too close to be conclusive., analysts estimate. Five years ago, the head of state obtained 66%; his rival, Le Pen, 34%.

Putin LePen
National Rally, Marine Le Pen’s party, has received funds from Russian entities. The campaign of the ultra-conservative has avoided links with Vladimir Putin, in full invasion of Ukraine, focusing on the fall in the purchasing power of the French.

While going through these last hours, before the voting centers open tomorrow, the National Commission for Control of the Electoral Campaign for the Presidential Election, the CNCCEP and the Electoral Commission, in a press release dated April 4, recalled the prohibition of publishing and transmitting polls the day before and the day of the first and second lap. In this press release, it is also recalled that the main polling institutes will not carry out “exit” polls.

“The Electoral Commission has obtained from the eight main polling institutes (BVA, Elabe, Harris Interactive, Ifop, Ipsos, Kantar, Odoxa, OpinionWay,) the assurance that none of them will conduct polls on April 10 ‘out of the polls ‘ , remember the National Commission for the Control of the Electoral Campaign for the Presidential Election (CNCCEP).

Finally, during this time of “reserve”, it has been remembered that as of Friday night, Elysée candidates are prohibited from disseminating any electoral propaganda, poll or results related to the election, so as not to influence the vote. This rule also applies to the media. The dissemination of surveys during this reservation period is sanctioned with a fine of up to 75,000 euros.


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