A Covid-19 always present, a non-campaign, denial of institutions … More than three months after the first round of municipal elections, the second round of a very strong defeat on Sunday, with more than six voters out of ten voting against the ballot box. A predictable rejection.
Behind the green wave, another wave hit France: abstinence. A large majority of the 16.5 million voters called to vote in 4820 municipalities prevented voting booths, Sunday, June 28, during the second round of municipal elections. According to the polling institutions, it reached a historic level, between 59% and 60%, about 12 points more than for the second round of 2014.
“Abstinence is the big event of the evening,” summarized after the election Chloé Morin, consultant Ifop, in France24. It reached a record in cities like Nantes (71.42%), Rennes (68.32%) or Lille (60%), won by the Socialist Party. In Lyon, where EELV has taken the city to the right, it is estimated at 62%.
Municipal 2020: Very high votes: “This is the big fact for this evening”
“The election has broken”
To explain this civil disaster, observers point to the Covid-19 pandemic, which had already affected voter mobilization in the first round (55.4%). “The context of the health crisis is still not blurred for voters,” said Cevipof researcher Bruno Cautrès of FranceInfo, for whom “the fear of being polluted in polling stations”, despite the health measures adopted, “was one of the biggest barriers to participation”.
For many, the first round, held in March, was experienced “as a kind of trauma”, Chloé Morin recalls. According to a Sopra Steria survey for FranceTV, Radio France, LCP and the Public Senate on voters’ motives, 43% of those polled cited the risk of catching Covid-19 as the main reason for their failure.
Between the two rounds went three months, the more the French’s interest in this choice. “The election has broken down,” continues the Ifop consultant. Observers see this as a rejection for the mayor, while it is the political function that remains the most appreciated by the French, according to opinion polls.
No campaign, no meeting
For health reasons, the second round of the municipal elections was also marked by an extraordinary campaign, the longest in VeRepublic. Activists and candidates could not campaign in the markets, hold meetings or go door-to-door, details of France24 Pierre Jacquemain, editor-in-chief of the magazine Regards. Otherwise, digital campaigns have been organized, but “it has not been mobilized enough,” he continues. Including media.
On the other hand, nationally abstained vote, which is not a record under VeThe republic – more than 69.8% during the 2000 referendum on the presidential quorum – should not make us forget that people in some hotly contested cities are heavily mobilized. Participation was noted in several cities, including Perpignan (52.8%), Nancy (57.9%, versus 62.9% in the first half) and Bastia (35.9%).
But behind this reluctant push in France also hides a political saturation. “With the exception of Europeans in May 2019, where we had seen a revival of participation, we are gradually seeing a form of democracy for the abolition of France,” election after election, Bruno Cautrès warns. “The presidential election is still motivating, but the other elections are struggling to find voter motivation,” he added.
In the survey Sopra Steria, 38% of those surveyed say they have not voted because they believe the elections will not change their daily lives, 27% because they dislike any list or candidate.
“Not very good news”
Emmanuel Macron expressed his “concern” according to Élysée, who believes this figure is “not very good news”. “Again, it is France’s abstinence that prevails,” lamented, for his part, Senate President Gérard Larcher (LR), believing that “mistrust sets in.”
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of Insoumis, worried “about a civil strike”, “about a form of cold rebellion against all institutions in the country”. Abstinence “is a form of” approval “” now turn “against the rules of the game that the people no longer agree to,” he said.
At the moment, it is the big losers from this election, La République en Marche and La France Insoumise, who wanted to note this particularly high cast of votes. “A way to minimize their defeat,” says Chloé Morin. It remains to be seen if they will learn from it.