who will benefit from a strong abstention but less important than expected?

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After months of an atypical campaign, the score looks uncertain in the first round of the presidential election. At 5 p.m., according to figures from the Ministry of the Interior, abstention would be between 24% and 26.5% French.

This abstention is strong. She is higher than that of 2017 by 4 to 6 points, but it is still lower than predicted by the latest polls, and lower than the 2002 record. In other words, unanticipated voters finally went to vote, in a context of strong indecision of the electorate. From there to create a surprise in the results?

Presidential: turnout at 65% at 5 p.m., down from 2017 and 2012

Participation at 65% at 5 p.m.

At 5:00 p.m., turnout stood at 65%, or 4.4 points less than in 2017 (69.42%) and 5.5 than in 2012 (70.59). It is however much higher than that of 2002 (58.45%), a record year for abstention in the first round of the presidential election.

The latest surveys published during the week promised between 25 and 28% of the vote for outgoing President Emmanuel Macron, 21.5 to 24% for the far-right candidate (RN) and 16 to 18% for the Insoumis Jean-Luc Mélenchon – these last two having been in continuous progression at the end of the campaign.

Verdict expected at 8 p.m.

On this sunny Sunday across the country, some 48.7 million voters decide between the 12 candidates for the Elysée. The verdict of the polls is expected at 8:00 p.m., with the first estimates from polling institutes.

In Les Minimes, the birthplace of the singer Claude Nougaro near the city center of Toulouse, the inhabitants are numerous in front of the polling stations.

“We have always voted, and we force our children to vote, otherwise we disinherit them!” Laughs Pascale Sylvestre-Baron, 62-year-old educational manager.

“This year is a bit special, I changed my mind about my vote at the last minute because I’m very worried. Also worried about the abstention rate. If people don’t mobilize in the first round afterwards it’s too late. It’s a bit hopeless”, continues the sixty-year-old before getting on her bike.

In a small business near another polling station, this time in the popular district of Mirail, Lydie Maillot, she does not “see the point of voting”.

“I had always voted, but now I’m really tired. What will change, everything is written in advance, calculated. My vote will not count for anything”, estimates the 42-year-old mother , unemployed.

The polls have opened: everything you need to know about the 1st round of the presidential election

“A right that we do not want to lose”

In Marseille, eyes sparkling with pride, Ali Msaidie leaves the polling station of the elementary school Saint-Charles 2, near the station of the same name, in a popular district. He has just put his ballot in the ballot box, placed in a classroom decorated with children’s drawings, then goes through the hall where a large map of France hangs. At 53, this is the first time that this accompanying student with disabilities (AESH) has the right to vote for a presidential election in France, a country where he has lived for 21 years.

“I fought for so many years to be naturalized, to have French nationality. This is the first time that I can vote for a presidential election, it is so important for me to be one of those who choose!”, told AFP, this man born in the Comoros.

In Corsica, an incident occurred at a polling station in Patrimonio (Haute-Corse) where the lock was blocked by glue on Sunday morning, causing a delay in opening this morning by half an hour, indicated to AFP the prefecture of Haute-Corse. In Corse-du-Sud, no incident but tags flourished on the town hall of Propriano (tag IFF, I Francese Fora, the French outside) and on polling stations in Sartène and in the villages of Valle-di- Mezzana and Villanova: this is a stencil of the figure of Yvan Colonna.

In Pantin, in the Paris region, Michèle Monnier, 77, retired, former school keeper, also voted early. “The women of my time fought to vote so whatever the election I will go and vote,” she says as she leaves the bakery.

In Saint-Georges-de-Mons, a village of 2,000 inhabitants in Puy-de-Dôme, voters turned out in large numbers, crowding into the polling station set up in the small museum of the town.

Uncertainty

All the candidates voted in the morning, before returning to their campaign headquarters in Paris. Among the contenders who seem far from the second round are the candidates of the two parties that have dominated political life in France for decades, Valérie Pécresse (Les Républicains) and Anne Hidalgo (Socialist Party).

Uncertainty remains because, warns political scientist Pascal Perrineau, “it is the first election that has reached such a rate of people who are undecided, who have changed their opinion, roughly one in two French people”.

Begun as the country suffered a wave of Covid-19, the campaign continued against the agonizing backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, followed by a sharp rise in the prices of certain products, in particular energy.

Small duels rather than a big debate

At no time was a major theme for the future discussed by all the candidates.

“We have a kind of archipelization of the debates with small duels”, notes the pollster Frédéric Dabi (Ifop), in particular between the far-right polemicist Eric Zemmour and Valérie Pécresse or between Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the other candidates of a fragmented left, the ecologist Yannick Jadot, the communist Fabien Roussel, the socialist Anne Hidalgo or the Trotskyists Philippe Poutou and Nathalie Arthaud.

The sovereignist Nicolas Dupont-Aignan and the Béarnais deputy Jean Lassalle regretted a campaign without debate.

The outgoing president, who has always remained at the top of the polls, entered the campaign late, prevented first by the health crisis, then by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. He gave a boost at the end of the week, with several interviews, even making a short impromptu visit to a market in Neuilly-sur-Seine on Friday.

Marine Le Pen has also led an atypical campaign, striving to smooth her image and putting in the background, in her speeches, her proposals on immigration and on Europe, which nevertheless remain as radical as in the past. .