Turnout in France: French Presidential Elections: Highest Abstention in 50 Years | International
The 1969 presidential elections, still held amid the embers of the May 1968 revolution, were considered a decisive moment for the future of France, after the resignation of Charles de Gaulle, the general who had marked the political life of this country since the Second World War. The elections this Sunday, in which the centrist president Emmanuel Macron has defeated the far-right Marine Le Pen, were also presented as a decisive moment for the future of France and all of Europe. It was a predicted victory, but it was not sung. Both elections have not only been united by that feeling of a decisive moment, but also by the low mobilization.
According to estimates by the Ipsos institute, abstention reached 28.2%, 2.8 points more than in the 2017 elections, when it stood at 25.44%. There has also been a demobilization between the two rounds, with a drop of almost two points compared to the vote two weeks ago (26.31%). It is also the second time in a row that abstention has increased between the two rounds, despite the fact that on both occasions the French have had to choose between a centrist politician and a far-right leader, who endangered the republican system.
The historic abstention in this second round is explained “by a deep democratic frustration,” he explained this Sunday to the newspaper liberation the director of political studies at the Viavoice polling institute, Stewart Chau. “This data makes it clear that the voters have not perceived what was at stake in these elections,” added Chau, who also maintains that it demonstrates “the weakening of the republican front”, a concept that became part of French political life when the far-right Jean-Marie Le Pen made it to the second round by surprise and all the democratic forces were mobilized in favor of Jacques Chirac, who finally swept it away.
“This Democratic vote against a far-right candidate seems to have fizzled out. In the period between the two rounds, according to our figures, only 27% of the French considered the existence of a republican front to be justified. This is a historic collapse,” Chau continued. Between the two rounds of 2002, in the midst of the national commotion, three million French people who had abstained in the first round turned out to vote in the second. Nothing similar has happened on this occasion nor in 2017.
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The record in the last fifty years remains, in any case, in 1969, with an abstention of 31.3%. In those elections, the Gaullist Georges Pompidou won against the conservative Alain Poher. The communist Jacques Duclos had come in third place in the first round and, as on this occasion the leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon had done, he did not support any candidate. Although the leader of France Insumisa called for Marine Le Pen not to vote after the vote on the 10th, he did not ask for the vote for Macron.
Mélenchon is already betting on what he calls the third round, the legislative elections scheduled for June, and this demobilization could be an indication that he will maintain his electoral drive. The winner of these elections, which are also held in two rounds, will condition Macron’s second five-year presidential term.
Although in the second round it is still about estimates, Le Monde abstention in the first round was thoroughly analyzed with definitive results on the table: turnout was quite high in small cities and large metropolises, while in medium-sized cities abstention was higher.
According to a study by Ipsos-Sopra Steria, among young people aged 25-34, abstention was especially high in the first round (46%). Among workers it was also quite significant (33%), while among retirees, who have been at the center of the electoral campaign that has had the loss of purchasing power as one of its main issues, the mobilization was especially high: 81 % turned out to vote. In the first round, in one commune out of five, abstention achieved the symbolic victory.
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