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The mobilization of Mélenchon supporters will be key in abstention

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. / ef

The two candidates have courted the French who gave 21.95% support to La Francia Insumisa, although the desire to stay at home this Sunday prevails among them

The votes most courted by the two candidates for the presidency of the Republic are those of the far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The leader of La Francia Insumisa (the equivalent of Podemos) obtained 21.95% of the votes in the first round. Although Mélenchon urged his voters not to give “a single vote for Mrs. Le Pen”, he also did not clearly ask for the ballot for the outgoing president.

The two French candidates have struggled in recent days to gain support in that fishing ground. The percentage of ballots at stake is capable of tilting the balance between the two parties and, above all, of securing the victory of one of them. When Marie Le Pen presented her program again last Tuesday, no one missed her incorporating some of the proposals of La Francia Insumisa. But even so, it is not clear that her strategy has worked for him. According to a recent poll, 42% of Mélenchon voters will vote for Macron in the second round, 16% for the far-right leader, and 42% will abstain or vote blank.

This last fact is important in elections where abstention has become a third rival. If Mélenchon’s supporters stay at home, French politics will see the drop in voters in the presidential elections accentuate, which, drop by drop, has become a warning signal over the last three decades.

“Neither Macron nor Le Pen”, proclaimed many French between the two rounds, especially young voters, who will not go to the polls today because they do not want to have to choose “between plague and anger.” “Neither husband nor boss, neither Marine nor Macron,” read one of the banners that could be seen last weekend at the demonstration against the extreme right in Paris.

Abstention could be around 26% in the second round, according to experts. In 2017, the first time that Macron and Le Pen faced each other at the polls, 25.44% of French people did not go to vote.

Disbelief in the elections is concentrated in young people. The polls after the first round, a couple of weeks ago, showed that 46% of the abstention occurred among voters between 25 and 34 years old, while the rate in the immediately previous group, from 18 to 24 years old, rose to 42%. Also among the working class there were more people who gave up going to the polling stations.

The departments of ‘no’

Analysts consider that it is a global phenomenon made up of different factors. Among them, the young abstentionists do not see themselves represented by the candidates, they consider that their opinion is not taken into account either, or they observe that their concerns are barely reflected in the party programs, especially with regard to ecology or the prospects for young employment. In short: disenchantment.

Another element lies in the fact that an important part of the new generations do not see the ballot box as an effective system of participation in public life or with the capacity to guide political strategies. In the case of this Sunday, the experts also take into account the lack of novelty, since the elections are settled between the same two candidates who already concurred in 2017, and the absence of a sufficiently motivating electoral campaign.

Finally, just as the protest song has been influential for decades, there are sectors where the protest, punishment or ‘no’ vote predominates. This is what happens in the departments of Aisne, Pyrénées-Orientales, Moselle or Bouches-du-Rhône, . where abstention and null votes exceeded 70% in the first round due to the loss of faith of its citizens in the parties.

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