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French military flocking to Le Pen’s RN party

A French study on the electoral behavior of soldiers and gendarmes which examined the votes in several municipalities where their presence is significant, found that the National Rally is growing on Republicans party voters.

Published: July 20, 2019, 12:28 pm

    Done by Ifop for the Jean Jaurès Foundation, the researchers focused on the electoral results in the garrison towns and polling stations where the mobile gendarmes barracks are situated, in an attempt to identify electoral behavior that is difficult to perceive through polls.

    With this technique, Ifop revealed the growing interest of soldiers and gendarmes in the National Rally (RN), observing communes “where the weight of the military and their family counts significantly, that is to say, places where the numbers are relatively large but where the communal population is relatively limited”.

    Therefore, among the municipalities where the army is established, the RN has collected 50,4 percent of the votes in the last European elections in Mailly-le-Camp, 17 points more than on the whole of the department of the Aube. In Suippes too, the RN convinced 45,5 percent of voters, about 15 points above the average recorded in the Marne.

    In the few communes selected, the vote for the RN has also largely progressed between the first round of the presidential election of 2002 and the last European elections. At the same time, the votes favorable to the Republicans (LR) decreased between the first round of the 2017 presidential elections and the European elections:  less 15,5 points in Mailly-le-Camp,  less 10,9 points in Sissonne, less 10,1 points in Mourmelon-le-Grand.

    The study shows that these trends are also noticeable in some municipalities where air bases are situated, according to a report from Le Figaro.

    In Ventiseri, for example, the RN obtained 43,6 percent of the votes in the European elections against 26,5 percent on average in the rest of Upper Corsica.

    Even abroad, the military bases had an influence on the electoral results: in Abu Dhabi, where one of these establishments is implanted, Marine Le Pen has collected 12,6 percent of the votes in the first round of the presidential election in 2017, compared to an average of 4,9 percent at Dubai’s polling stations.

    Another part of the study carried out by Ifop focused on “polling stations housing in their perimeter a barracks of the mobile gendarmerie”, in urban areas. Here again, the areas selected at the time, “showed a vote for Marine Le Pen in the presidential election well above the average of their city (or district for Paris and Lyon)”.

    In Hyères in southern France, the difference between the gendarme vote for the National Rally and the city average was above 20 percent. In Toulouse and Dijon, the difference was 17,4 and 12,5 percent in Rennes.

    This assumption was also confirmed by looking at the lowest scores achieved by the president of the former National Front in polling stations adjacent to those that include a gendarmerie barracks.

    Versailles – which includes only gendarmes and their families – recorded 46,1 percent of the vote in favor of Marine Le Pen, in the first round, and the polling station of Nanterre where only the Republican guards and their families are represented, the RN won 37,5 percent of the vote in the 2012 presidential election, compared with an average of 10,7 percent for the rest of the city.

    In the department of Aube, for example, the list of Jordan Bardella obtained 50,7 percent of the vote in Ville-sous-la-Ferte, where the Clairvaux prison is located, against a departmental average of 33,4 percent, which is similar in urban areas.

    France’s law enforcement has strongly supported Le Pen for a while already. A 2017 Ifop study carried out ahead of the first round of presidential elections, estimated that about 51 percent of gendarmes were likely to vote for Le Pen.

    In 2017 the police union Alliance urged police officers not to back Le Pen for president, but many officers ignored the directive, saying they would vote for Le Pen and the RN anyway.

    Jerome Fourquet , director of the public opinion department at Ifop, said: “This is why we have not been able to study the vote of sailors, who live in cities that are too big, or that of police officers, who are never grouped in the same place in sufficient number to be decisive in the local electorate.”

    Fourquet said the numbers were very high. If the inclination of the RN voters “varies depending on the news, the average is still very high,” he told the French daily.

    These differences of vote between the military and the rest of the population can be explained in particular by their “daily life being far removed from that of a ‘average’ voter”. Moreover, President Macron’s LREM party has not managed to impose itself as being the “party of the order”.

    “In the process of political recomposition at work, where we observe the rallying of the right around Macron, the barracks are still impervious,” the head of Ifop explained.

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