Elections in France | The best result of the extreme right

The extreme right he handsomely earned his third opportunity to dispute the presidency of Franceand with better prospects than ever. Between Marine Le Pen and Éric Zemmour, the two main candidates, they got more than 10.6 million votes in the first round of the presidential above 30% of the totaland support for the National Grouping candidate increased in practically the entire country, which anticipates a much closer duel than five years ago with Emmanuel Macron in the final vote.

Le Pen has exceeded the estimates of voting intention given by the polls by obtaining 23.15% of the votesBut above all, has improved its performance in 2017, when he repeated the success achieved in 2002 by his father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, by qualifying for the second round. And if five years ago he got 7.6 million votes, 21.3%, this Sunday he shot up to 8.1 million.

By itself, any previous result of the former National Front -which has been called the National Grouping since 2018- or any other radical right-wing party, has already improved, without showing weariness or the appearance of a candidate located even more to its right. At the end, Éric Zemmour has been somewhat below expectations: got the 7.07%, when it reached 15% in the polls and in the last week it was around 10%; however, their almost 2.5 million votes they are not negligible at all.

Liquidation of the traditional right

Between both they have liquidated the traditional French right: The candidate of the Republicans, Válerie Pécresse, to whom the polls gave last week close to 10%, has remained at a meager 4.78%, below the threshold necessary to receive subsidies for campaign expenses.

As has happened with the Socialist Party – its candidate, Anne Hidalgo, has remained at 1.75% -, the classic French right has seen its electorate disappear, probably divided between Emmanuel Macron, in the case of the more centrists, and the radical right, backing Le Pen or Zemmour.

The latter, in particular, includes in its ideology a good part of the aspirations of the most conservative right in morals, more Catholic, and more liberal in economics. His best results have been obtained, in any case, in traditional fiefdoms of the National Frontfrom the extreme right: the departments of Alpes-Maritimes, Var, Vaucluse and Bouches-du-Rhône -where Marseille is located-, on the Mediterranean coast, and the two departments into which the island of Corsica is divided.

Le Pen grows in almost the entire country

Only in that region is there any significant, albeit slight, setback for Marine Le Pen compared to 2017. Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches-du-Rhône and Vaucluse are three of the eight departments in which she has a lower percentage of votes than in the first round of Five years ago. All in all, it is still the first force in the first two and it is only behind Zemmour in Paris, where the National Association traditionally obtains very poor results.

There is a fourth department in metropolitan France where it is losing support, that of Seine-Saint-Denis, located on the outskirts of Paris and where the leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon has become strong. The other four are overseas departments (Guayana, French Polynesia, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and Saint Martin/Saint Barthélemy), of less relevance in elections in which the important thing is the sum of votes in all the territories.

Faced with that slight wear, Le Pen has grown in the other 97 departments, especially in central and north-eastern France. National Group it is the most voted force in 71 departments, compared to the 51 in which Macron has been imposed, although the president gets one of the most populous, such as Paris, Rhône or Gironde -where Lyon and Bordeaux are located, respectively-. In any case, they are excellent results for the leader of the extreme right, which puts her in a much better position than five years ago to try to storm the Elysee.

Attract more voters to reach the presidency

Why Le Pen? It counts on adding to its ranks the majority of Zemmour’s voters, 90% of whom stated in the polls prior to the first round that they would support the candidate of the National Association if it went to the second round. That would mean ensuring a floor close to the result obtained in the second round of 2017, those 10.6 million votes that until now are the ceiling of the National Front – National Group.

From there, the objective would be to attract the voters of other candidates on the right, such as Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, which has obtained 725,000 votes in the first round and is situated on the political spectrum halfway between the traditional right from which it comes and the radical right. The supporters of Jean Lasalle and Válerie Pécresse can also be a good fishing ground, and even those of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, more inclined to the economic protectionism advocated by Le Pen than to the liberalism of Macron.

Although It may be enough for Le Pen that those Mélenchon voters decide to stay home and not join the calls that Macron will repeat in the next two weeks to mobilize, for the third time in a presidential election, the ‘republican front’ against the extreme right. For the moment, Mélenchon has urged his 7.7 million voters not to give a single vote to the extreme right, but he has once again dodged, like five years ago, asking for a vote for Macron. So abstention, which in the first round was not as low as expected, may ultimately be the key for the extreme right to open the doors of the Elysee.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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