What are the main lessons we can take away from this election?
The main lesson is the deepening of the political divide rather than the concern, which means that for elections that confer significant powers in terms of the conduct of daily life, and which are meant to be mobilized because they pertain to proximity, we observe an abstention rate that defies every contest. There is a gap between the electorate and the principles of the rules of the democratic game.
To what extent can this unprecedented abstention affect the vote?
When the abstention is too high, the people who vote are people who are relatively educated, larger than average, and have the rules of political life. These voters tend to prefer the classic and outgoing parties, whose management is credited with and whose balance sheets are valued with this famous “outgoing bonus”.
What are the observations you draw from the results obtained by the traditional parties?
The Republicans are doing well, with would-be presidential candidates showing in the first round that they have been able to run effective campaigns. The Socialist Party remains ahead on the left, which it did not win, with unexpected results as in Burgundy, Franche-Comté, or Brittany. There is clearly also a very good result of Carol Delga in Occitanie, which shows to what extent the option of carrying out a field campaign, to rely on regional levers such as economic support, has paid off. This kind of result also makes the rhetoric of those who claimed that the old way of doing politics is outdated.
The National Rally and La République en Marche are far from being strengthened by these elections. What do we conclude from it?
I hope that those who have wanted to polarize the debate since 2017 and continue to mark this election, on issues that have nothing to do with local skills, fail. For RN, this is very worrying because the topic of security, which was at the center of the discussion, brought him absolutely nothing. Another disturbing fact for them was that the less educated and disenfranchised voters, in short those who were far from politics, vacillated between the abstainers and the populist parties. But there, they chose to abstain, while in recent years, strong abstentions no longer punished the FN to the same extent.
Also, the RN is much lower than what the polling stations expected…
It is very clear, including elsewhere in Baka, that the probability of capturing the area becomes very low. With these results, the National Rally is undoubtedly entering a more difficult period than expected from the perspective of the presidential election.
Is it possible to draw lessons from this election for the 2022 presidential election exactly?
What just happened does not cancel out the analyzes that revealed a political split and the rupture of parties and their ideologies, on the contrary. We did not emerge from this crisis, nor from the contradiction in the reconfiguration of political parties. For example, we still do not know whether the Marche Republic is a regional party, in the same way that we still struggle to identify the ideological poles that characterize the new divisions. This “liquid” political presentation, this lack of standards, is also one of the driving factors for this abstention, and it will be a key element in the upcoming elections.
PhD in Political Science and Professor at Pantheon Assas University
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