Today is April 25, 2022. That’s it. The vote is done.
Yesterday was the big date and Macron won with a large cushion. Like every presidential election, the election played itself out the whole evening with political analysis and projections. As soon as the result was known, experts and commentators, political scientists and long time analysts provided their insights. Yet, compared to previous elections, there was no enthusiasm, and for good reasons.
I see four reasons;
1 The High Result; A higher result than expected at 58.6%, much wider than anticipated, almost a surprise. The demographics of those who voted in Macron’s favor, show a high support from the more than 65 year of age and some of the 18-24 year old.
2 Thank You Mélenchon; Precisely, that 18-24 is where Mélenchon achieved the highest scores. Of course, all eyes were already on the choices that Mélenchon’s voters were about to make in the second round. Their choices were already expected, but yesterday’s results show that a much stronger share voted in favor of Macron. That strong result of 58.6% was achieved in large part thanks to these Mélenchon voters.
3 High Level of Abstention; The rate of participation is incredibly low and weak with an abstention rate that kept growing in the last 15 years. It’s the highest of the “Vth République” since 1958, if we exclude 1969 at 31%. It’s not good news for democracy and exposes the new presidency to political challenges. The call for voting this year, like in 2017, was about barring the access to the far right to the highest political leadership in France. It’s regularly referred to as the “Front Républicain”. The higher victory than expected may hide the fact that many abstentionists failed to hear that call. This high abstention also indicates a lack of commitment to the current political offer as it stood for this second round.
ABSTENTION; 2002 20.3%; 2007 16%; 2012 19%; 2017 25.44%; 2022 28%
4 The Far Right Keeps Growing; This good result should not hide another fact. The gap between Macron and Le Pen is much lower than in 2017. I highly recommend the following page developed by the local newspaper Le Télégramme with a live electronic animation that tells the whole story. Although Macron’s goal has always been to reduce the score of the Far Right, Marine Le Pen manages to actually gain more than 8 points compared to 2017. She also halved the 33 points gap in 2017 to 16 points in 2022. As a result, this victory should not hide the forest; the Far Right keeps growing and it is doing so at a sustained growth that will not abate soon.
So these are the reasons that explain the low level of enthusiasm after that victory. Yet, what are the four faces of the Rubik’s Cube of Politics that Macron will need to resolve?
This is what it could look like;
- Bloc de gauche/ Left Wing Bloc
- Soutien au Président/ Support to the President
- Droite Réunifiée/Reunified Right Wing
In any case, we are now entering that crucial phase from now to June 12 and 19, the date of the next general elections to choose a new majority. As a result, during that intermediary phase, the new prime minister will not have the free hand to implement any program.
Internationally, that intermediary phase will lead to some intense uncertainty, especially within the European Union, given that France is the actual acting President of the European Council.
Once the vote of June 19 is acted, a new phase will then open. And that’s where the Rubik’s Cube of French Politics may even become more difficult to resolve. Should the new reshaping of this political landscape not be expressed as a clear majority at the National Assembly, we may enter another phase of uncertainty that some analysts are starting to call a 4th round.
The tectonic plates of French politics are still shifting and have not yet delivered their definite answers. It will be important to observe if the 3rd round, the general elections, do end up delivering a result that satisfies the underlying voters sentiment. Should these general elections fail to do so, this will provide further impetus for a deeper reform of the political system and pave the way for a more turbulent 4th round.
That’s what I wanted to share with you.
Let me know if you have questions and I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Feel free to comment.