With a still fairly high abstention, 65.7%, the second round of regional elections this Sunday (27) confirmed the retreat of the ultra-right, led by Marine Le Pen.
His Réunion Nationale (RN) party lost to the center-right Republicans (LR) in the only region where he still had a chance, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in south-eastern France. According to an exit poll conducted by the Ipsos institute, the RN candidate obtained 42.3% of the vote, against 57.7% for the LR.
The RN leader has softened xenophobic rhetoric and expelled party members who have made anti-Semitic statements, but has yet to reverse the fate of being beaten in the second round by those who reject the anti-immigration party.
If it is possible to speak of the winner of an election of which 2 out of 3 voters did not even deign to leave their homes, it is Xavier Bertrand (LR), who won in the first round in the Hauts -de-France, crushing the RN candidate in a poor region, where the influence of the far right was once strong. According to the Ipsos poll, he won with 53% of the vote.
“Politics is not dead,” said the Republican pre-presidential candidate in April 2022, just after the polls closed at 8 p.m. local time, 3 p.m. in Brazil.
Although regional numbers do not translate into national performances, Bertrand has shown that he is capable of defeating the RN, which may place him as a viable alternative for the French who do not want Marine Le Pen or the French president. Emmanuel Macron anticipates a future mandate.
The Republican has yet to assert himself in his party’s primaries, where he is not the most popular option, but the winds could start to blow in his favor, according to an Ipsos poll on Sunday. Ten months before the presidential election, Bertrand is the favorite of right-wing voters, with 18% of voting intentions, against 13% of his closest competitors.
Marine Le Pen (with between 24% and 26% of the voting intentions) and Emmanuel Macron (with 24% and 27%) continue to face each other in the lead.
In total, left and center-left coalitions will govern 5 of the 13 regions, the center-right in the lead 4 and the right 3. In Corsica, the victory goes to the regionalists.
The strong abstention confirmed in the second round is equivalent to 66.7% of the first round last Sunday (20), according to official data, and the main reason was “dissatisfaction with politicians in general”.
The reason was cited by 27% of French people invited to cite three main causes of their lack of interest in voting, in a survey by the Ipsos / Sopra Steria institute for FranceTV and Radio France. The second most cited reason, with 23%, was that none of the candidates represented the voter.
Having “other concerns” or “other commitments” comes third, with 20% of mentions. Voting in France is not compulsory.
The lack of voter engagement, which was described to FranceInfo as “growing democratic malaise” by political scientist Rémi Lefebvre after the first round, sparked week-long debates in France over its main reasons and what they are doing. must be done to increase participation.
Even mandatory has been suggested by some analysts, citing the case of Belgium, where voters who do not vote are subject to fines, and turnout reaches up to 90%.
In an interview with Le Monde newspaper, Christine Fauvelle-Aymar, a researcher at the University of Tours and specialist in electoral participation in disadvantaged neighborhoods, said the fear of sanctions would reverse abstention if a similar system were applied in France ;
Analysts are struggling to make this change because it is unclear what choices those who refuse to go to the polls would make today. In protest, they might end up voting “against the system”, which would favor populists or foreigners.
The result of the first round had already proved to be a tragedy for Macron’s party, República en Marcha (LREM), but 51% of voters told Ipsos last Sunday that their vote represented neither a sanction nor a membership in the national government. . 33% of them expressed their opposition to the president, and 16% said they voted for him.