Good for Mélenchon, bad for Macron

The results of the first round of the general elections in France are very bad for Emmanuel Macron.

According to projections, his party Together would eventually collect between 255 and 295 MPs after the second round. It takes 289 to be in the majority.

It is likely that his party will have to govern as a minority by merging with another party. That shouldn’t be too difficult.

But several ministers Macron appointed to his cabinet before the election could be forced to resign because they were not elected in the second round.

The big winner of this first round is Jean-Luc Mélenchon. He finds himself at the head of a left-wing coalition, the New People’s Ecological and Social Union (Nupes), which is expected to bring together between 150 and 190 MPs after the second round.

These parliamentary elections could therefore serve as a springboard for the next presidential election. He also claimed the post of Prime Minister. The election results do not justify his nomination, but this claim serves the image of a new legitimacy he has begun to build.

The game is not yet won for Mélenchon. The next presidential election is a long way off and he will have to do a lot to keep his coalition intact.

Low turnout

Nevertheless, Together and Nupes have very similar voting shares, each with around 25%, despite quite different projected numbers of MPs. Mélenchon can still be happy here.

The participation rate in the first round seems very low. It is possible to estimate that only about 48% of registered voters would have deigned to vote. This rate has been declining since 2002. In 1978 almost 85% of registered voters wanted to vote.

This worrying voter dissatisfaction is bad news for French democracy.

Why do so few people vote?

It’s easy to vote in France. The voting conditions are therefore not called into question.

Similarly, Ensemble, more center-right, and Nupes, on the left, presented very different voting platforms. So it is not a problem of too close proximity between party programs.

Why this apathy?

Possible causes

One could argue, to quote a famous title from Quebec cinema, that comfort breeds indifference. However, the situation of the yellow vests and the high inflation that the country is suffering from are not pleasant.

Evil seems deeper.

It may have to do with the feeling among voters that national elected officials cannot do much for them. This would explain why the participation rate in the presidential election, which is perceived as a stronghold of power, is significantly higher.

It may also be that other voters, increasingly disaffected and individualistic, concluded that no one but them could represent them.

Why such a low turnout? The question remains open.

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