This effect is mirrored, according to Ifop, because 40 percent of voters in the first round are over 65 years old and 42 percent of them are retired. The regional elections in France can thus be described as an election of boomers.
For the eldest daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marie-Caroline Le Pen, the underperformance of participation marks “a defeat for everyone”. She said there was no legitimacy for those who were in the lead with only a 30 percent participation. It is the marker of a deep disenchantment of the French with politics. But she added that it also raised questions about how the elections were organized by the government.
More than three quarters of French voters were “not interested” in regional elections, an Ifop-Fiducial poll for LCI and TF1 showed. It looked at the reasons that kept the French away from the polls and it is quite clear that a very large part of them were simply not interested in the campaign.
Some 76 percent of the French indeed expressed “no interest in regionals” , against 24 percent to have paid attention. This last figure collapsed compared to the 2015 campaign, during which 41 percent of French people had looked into the subject.
From her stronghold of Hénin-Beaumont (Pas-de-Calais), National Rally leader Marine Le Pen vigorously pointed out the weak mobilization of her electorate. “Next Sunday, move,” she stressed, calling on supporters of the RN to mobilize for democracy. The RN voters were those who had travelled the least, on Sunday, June 20.
RN candidate in Center-Val de Loire, Aleksandar Nikolic (21,5 percent) also noted the high number of voters who stayed away: “Given the abstention which exceeds 70 percent in our region, we cannot really learn lessons from the poll. It is really the State that is being questioned.”
Another Lepéniste, Laurent Jacobelli (RN), underscored how electoral disorganization masked a “massive rejection of government policy” in the first round of regional and departmental elections. Jacobelli, National Rally candidate in the Grand Est, is however still determined to win: “This evening the French have once again shunned the ballot box. Twinned elections then moved, several times, by the executive, no communication plan to call voters to the polls, and for the first time, the French did not have the ballots in their mailboxes. The disorganization of the state is blatant, but perhaps it is to disguise the overwhelming rejection of government policy. ”
The approximately 47,7 million voters registered on the electoral rolls were called to the polls to choose their regional representatives for a six-year term. But the abstentions, which everyone fears will be particularly high, may even set a new record. In regional elections of 2010 it was 53,67 percent and in 2011 during the cantonal elections it was 55,68 percent.
For the first round, this was certainly one of the worst waves of abstention in French political history. But more generally, conservative-leaning parties seem likely to emerge victorious from this election, and reaffirmed their position as the leading political force in France.
In 12 out of 13 regions, some parties already in power were in the lead early on. This is particularly the case for Les Républicains, who for example obtained three very large victories in Hauts-de-France (44 percent of the vote), in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (44 percent) and in Île-de-France (34,7 percent).
In Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Occitanie, which the left already controlled, its lists easily won the first round. Elsewhere, several united lists of leftists made it to the second round. This is particularly the case in Île-de-France, where a merger of the three left-wing lists having exceeded 10 percent (PS, LFI, EELV) could seriously put Valérie Pécresse (ex-LR) in difficulty.
Emmanuel Macron’s party, LREM, on the other hand, came out absolutely exhausted from the first round. The presidential party was never in the lead anywhere, and has never seemed so far from being able to seize any region. At the national level, the party founded by Emmanuel Macron hardly gathered more than 10 percent of the vote.
Another disappointment were the scores of the National Rally. Although initially in the lead in six regions according to early polls, the Lepéniste party only managed to make a difference in PACA, where Thierry Mariani obtained 37 percent of the vote – against 34 percent for Renaud Muselier. The RN also took Center-Val-de-Loire, but all the scores it achieved were very much lower than those announced earlier. They are also lower, everywhere, to the scores achieved in 2015. In particular, a very strong abstention among the RN voters were noted.
After the cold shower of the announcement of the abstention rate on Sunday evening, which had collapsed by 17 points in comparison with 2015, a detailed analysis showed that the abstention rate mainly affected metropolitan France. The participation of the French has been markedly reduced in large cities, while other regions revealed a better rate.
It was in Corsica that the voters mobilized the most. Some 47,31 percent of voters had gone to the polls by early estimates. In Occitanie, 31,71 percent of the voters turned out, as well as in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, where 30,64 percent of voters went to vote. Brittany and Bourgogne-Franche-Comté have roughly similar participation (respectively, 28,79 and 28,41 percent).
Elsewhere, numbers imploded. In the Grand-Est, only 21,73 percent of voters had turned up at 5 pm. And it is in Île-de-France that the worst performance of the day was witnessed. At the end of the afternoon, only 21,97 percent of Ile-de-France residents considered it useful to go and vote.