To the polling station at the town hall of the northern suburb of St. Ouen is slowly shattering people, there are definitely no queues. “It’s calm, I’d say calmer than in the first round,” said Ms Baignerès, head of the local election commission.
St. Ouen, along with many other suburbs, is one of Jean-Luke Mélenchon’s electoral strongholds, who did not advance to the second round of the presidential election. In St. Ouena received more than 51 percent of the vote – if the rest of the country voted in this way, he would already be the leader of the far-left Inflexible France movement at the Elysee Palace.
Dam against the far right
Most people who come here to vote, so they are not satisfied with the selection in the second round. This is also the case with a young lyceum teacher: “I chose Macron as a bulwark against the far right,” he explains without enthusiasm, apologizing for not wanting to say his name.
Olivier, a 56-year-old gardener, also elected the current president: “I wonder what will happen to our pensions, I’m getting closer to that limit,” he says, adding that he will never elect extremists.
About who in St. Ouena wins, there’s no doubt – out of about two dozen people contacted, only one has signed up to Marine Le Pen. But the man of African descent in an extravagant silver suit resembling an astronaut, does not intend to explain anymore and leaves in a hurry.
The question is more about turnout and also how many people come to the ballot box, but they throw an empty ballot paper into it. This is also the case with Mrs Antoineta, a member of the local election commission. In the first round, she voted for Mélenchon, but Macron is as unacceptable to her as Le Pen. “Last time we were here until midnight, but this time there will not be as many votes, a lot of people will stay at home,” he estimates.
Polling station at the town hall in St. Ouenu.
Peyric garbage man passing by is one of those who did not go to the polls. He said the whole election was rigged: “It’s all a giant scam, from A to Z,” he fencing, convincing me that Le Pen’s brother-in-law is a Mossad agent and that rigged elections are everywhere else in Europe.
Even fewer people come to another polling station, which is in primary school. The chairman of the election commission, Ernould Charles, shows me in a telephone statement that she issued to the citizens of the town hall. It writes, among other things, about the racist program of Marine Le Pen, which divides people, and therefore it is necessary to build a dam – that is, to go to the polls and elect the current head of state. Only the final turnout will show how the town hall, which is ruled by a coalition of socialists and the Greens, will succeed.
Macron’s turn to the left
The fact that a much tighter result is expected this year than five years ago forced both jokes to campaign until the last minute. The last opportunity to reach out to voters took place on both Friday – President Macron visited the Lot department in the south of the country, Le Pen went to the market in the town of Étaples in her favorite region of Pas-de-Calais in the north. About 90 kilometers away, in Arras, 40,000, she had her last big meeting on Thursday. The paradox is that just five kilometers from Étaples lies the resort of Touquet, where President Macron throws his ballot in the ballot box.
After the coffee, go to the polls, the town hall urges the citizens of St. Ouenu.
The current president did not choose the above-mentioned position by chance, he headed here for the voters of the far-left candidate Jean-Luke Mélenchon. Macron focused on them in the two weeks dividing the two election rounds. Mélenchon’s supporters can be the decisive ones – their candidate won more than 22 percent of the vote in the first round.
That’s why Macron has taken a step to the left in recent weeks. He even discounted in a key part of his program, which is pension reform. He also bet on pension reform when announcing his plans for the next five-year plan. Although Macron had planned to do so after his election five years ago, the coronavirus pandemic had ruined it for him. Of the declared 65 years of retirement, he had to compromise a bit because of Mélenchon’s voters, and at one meeting with journalists he already admitted the age of 64.
The television debate recorded the president
But changes to the program did not escape Le Pen either. After its failure five years ago, it abandoned the fundamental demand for a referendum on withdrawing from the European Union. “That made up 70 percent of your program,” Macron said in Wednesday’s television debate. He came out of it as the more competent: “The debate was clear to Macron. Its rise began before her, and the day after, it intensified, “Brice Teinturier, director of the Ipsos agency, which provides regular pre-election polls, told Le Parisien.
According to the latter, Macron was aiming for a relatively clear victory – his score in the last polls ranged between 53 and 57 percent. This means a relatively smooth victory, but five years ago Macron won over 66 percent of the vote in the second round. The normalization of the far right in France is thus an indisputable phenomenon and shows that the policy of “demonization” that Marine Le Pen has long pursued is to some extent successful.
However, the effect of the above-mentioned debate cannot be overestimated. Compared to the discussions from the previous elections, it had a lower audience. In addition, many voters decide at the last minute, especially those who are hesitant to go to the polls at all.
Muted election campaign
Sociologists therefore expect that the number of people who stay at home could increase compared to the last election. At that time, he climbed to 25 percent in the second round. In addition, a large number of French people are going to go to the polls, but to submit a blank ballot paper as an expression of opposition to the system, or simply disagreement with both candidates.
This year, a rather unconventional election campaign also contributed to a certain electoral apathy. For Macron, this term can be used more in quotation marks, the actual campaign was led between two rounds. Otherwise, the campaign was largely overshadowed by the war in Ukraine, and the fact that the country now holds the presidency of the European Council for six months also contributed to Macron’s workload. For example, the president refused to take part in pre-election debates with anti-candidates, the only exception being the aforementioned Wednesday’s duel before the second round.
But even Le Pen did not hold many large meetings and rather focused on meeting people, for example in the markets. Macron chose a similar tactic between the two rounds, with the exception of the meeting in Marseille. Le Pen did not even go looking for support abroad this year. The visit of her Czech ally Tomia Okamura is thus rather a funny exception – no one knows the head of the SPD in the land of the Gallic rooster.