Correspondent in Paris
According to the first estimates, the first round of the regional elections, on Sunday, was marked by a threatening, exceptional, historical abstention. The right was confirmed as the first national political force, followed by the extreme right, confirming an important defeat for all the left and the party of Emmanuel Macron.
According to the estimates of BFMTV, the leading French audiovisual channel, private, abstention could have been on Sunday from 67.50%: the highest and most disturbing abstention in the history of regional elections, and one of the highest in national political history. In 2015, abstention was 50.09% and in 2010 it was 53.67%. A knocker with a flammable range.
This abstention partially reflects a “fatigue”, “rejection” and “indifference” of deep France towards the regions, which have a very modest political power, far removed from the Spanish regions.
Before the second round, next Sunday, the 27th, the political parties will have to try an exceptional mobilization, to try to influence in some way the evolution of a conservative political landscape, very conservative, even ultra-conservative of the first round.
According to the first estimates of the BFMT, these could be the provisional results of the first round: The Republicans (LR, traditional right, Nicolas Sarkozy’s party) and Diverse Right (DD) would have obtained 29.3% of the votes, consolidating as the first national political force, controlling eight of the French regions. The classical right would be confirmed as the victorious political force in the Isle of France (Paris region), the most important and emblematic region, and Hauts de France (north). Valérie Pécresse, president of the Paris region, and Xavier Bertrand, president of Hauts de France, aspire to play a growing political role among the possible leaders of the new French conservatism.
Agrupación Nacional (AN, far right), the party of Marine Le Pen, would have obtained 19.1% of the national votes. The extreme right does not control any region. But it could be in a good position to get a region, perhaps Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA). Marine Le Pen is given the intention of “abandoning” the presidency of her party, AN, to stand as a candidate for the presidency of the Republic, hoping to win over voters “beyond” the traditional ultra-conservative electorate.
Various rights (DD) between traditional conservatism and the extreme right, would have achieved 4.2%. In due course, those voters will have to choose between Los Republicanos and Agrupación Nacional. In total, the center, the right and the extreme right would have achieved between 42 and 43% of the national votes. An important sociological majority.
La República en Marcha (LREM), the party of Emmanuel Macron, where conservative, centrist and reformist personalities coexist, it would only have obtained 10.9% of the national votes in the first round. A disappointing and threatening result for the President of the Republic. Four years after being elected, eleven months before the next presidential elections, Macron has failed a significant regional implantation. It is a weakness of a certain depth.
The left, for their part, confirm a serious identity crisis. The Socialist Party (PS), the first party on the left, would have barely obtained 16.5% of the national votes. The French Socialists control five French regions. But they run the risk of losing some, and, above all, the deep France seems very far from a PS fallen by the fences in the most serious crisis in its history. Without leaders, without ideas, without allies.
Europa Ecología Los Verdes (EELV) was able to get 13.2% of the national votes. A modest result. Environmentalists don’t control any region. And they do not seem to be in a position to “impose” candidates or programs, facing the second round.
Insoum France (LFI, extreme left), the PCF and various Left, together, won 4.6% of the national votes. A result that borders on insignificance. French communism is still in its historic agony. The extreme left does not come out of a gesticulating ghetto.
34.3% of the votes in the left-wing lists are also victims of exceptional division and fragmentation. Socialists and the extreme left do not understand each other literally at all. And it is not clear who, how and when they could present a credible “alternative”, facing the next presidential elections. The worst situation for the French left in several decades.
These provisional results must be confirmed or qualified in the second round, next Sunday, when the historic abstention of 67.50% is a faithful reflection of fatigue, doubts and deep social anguish: a growing majority of French do not feel well represented by traditional political parties; and they await the appearance of a candidate who avoids a new duel between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism