France – The ghost of abstinence hangs over the presidential election

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Two weeks before the first round of the French presidential election, only 71% of respondents say they intend to vote.

The French president leads in the polls.

AFP

Almost two weeks before the first round of the French presidential election, the ghost of failure, as once again announced at record levels, hovers more than ever over a trompe l’oeil end to the campaign struggling to mobilize voters. But election specialists disagree on the seriousness of the evil and on the “victims” of the demobilizing effects of an announced victory, according to opinion polls by outgoing President Emmanuel Macron.

According to a recent BVA poll among abstainers, only 71% of respondents said they intended to vote. If this were confirmed at the polls on April 10, the number of absences would be similar to that observed during the vote on April 21, 2002 (28.4%), the highest level ever recorded for a first round of a presidential election. and much more than in 2017 (22.2%), which was already not a good vintage.

“We could say to ourselves that 70% turnout is an honorable score”, but “for many citizens – think of the more than 65% who hold the regional elections in 2021 – the presidential election remains the last bastion against a total breach of the vote. It is this definitive alienation that is worrying, ”warns Céline Braconnier, professor of political science.

End of membership?

“It is true that we risk a fall in participation in the presidential election for various reasons, the destruction of parties on the one hand and the evidence that Macron will win on the other,” analyzes for AFP Gérard Grunberg, political scientist and researcher . Director Emeritus at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). In the polls, Emmanuel Macron is the winner of the ballot with almost 30% of the votes in the first round of elections and the leader of the far right Marine Le Pen with 20%.

For Gérard Grunberg, it is still necessary to set aside the presidential election, the queenly election in France, which after all remains relatively preserved, and “even though turnout falls by ten points, we are still at a very high level, so we can not say that the voters are complete uninterested ”. “People are more and more utilitarian, they vote when it interests them, and we know that the tighter it is, the more votes, so the announced victory for Emmanuel Macron does not mobilize,” he insists.

In a survey conducted by BVA’s polling institute, 40% of potential abstainers put “the impression that the game is over” to justify their withdrawal from the polls, bound (41%) by the idea that “The election will not change. everyday life ”.

Who will abstain?

This worries Emmanuel Macron’s supporters, who fear a demobilization of their overconfident voters, as “historically it is always more difficult to mobilize voters from the outgoing majority”, according to pollster Bruno Jeanbart in the economic daily “Les Echos”.

But for Gérard Grunberg, on the contrary, it is the opponents of the outgoing president who have cause for concern. “It will benefit Macron even more because Macron voters are quite determined, especially in this period of latent war, it is the others who could say to themselves: ‘we do not like Macron, but he will win and we do not know who to vote for, ”he said.

“It’s one of the keys”

The far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and the radical left-wing Jean-Luc Mélenchon, whose voters are younger and more popular, therefore more threatened by the difficulty of mobilizing, have understood this well and multiply the calls for abstinence. .

“This is one of the keys that could enable Jean-Luc Mélenchon to be in the second round if there is strong popular participation, because those who abstain from voting are the working class, disgusted everywhere and have the impression of “No answer will be given to their problems during these elections”, warned Alexis Corbière, spokesman for Jean-Luc Mélenchon, on Thursday.

(AFP)

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