Election 2022: the hunting vote, a long-awaited trophy in the French presidential elections

admin April 5, 2022 53 Views
Updated 2022/04/05 at 12:45 AM
9 Min Read
Election 2022: the hunting vote, a long-awaited trophy in the French presidential elections
Election 2022: the hunting vote, a long-awaited trophy in the French presidential elections Listen to this article

The day is cold and foggy in the valley forest in the northern French department of the Somme. That doesn’t spoil the good humor of the roughly 70 hunters who gather during hunting season, like every Thursday, to enjoy a hobby that brings people of different ages and social backgrounds together: from retired surgeons to There are young sweepers and even a woman. Although there are more and more of them, hunters are still an overwhelming minority. They are delighted at the prospect of ending the day with two hunting, wild boar or deer. If luck is good, maybe a sharp one may also fall. But the main thing is to spend a few hours in harmony and nature, away from the worries of everyday life. “Hunting is above all, friends who get together,” says Emmanuel Lavoisier of the Somme Hunters Association. “And when we hunt, we don’t talk about politics,” says Yvonne, a kinesiologist responsible for one of the dog hunting groups. However, as the hours go by, political debate will infiltrate the conversation. They know that hunters are, in election season, one of the most prestigious hunts for an insignificant part of the candidates for the presidency of France.

Willie Schrein doesn’t get tired of repeating it. The president of the French National Federation of Hunters (FNC) claims that from his office on the outskirts of Paris there is a direct line to the Elysée hoppers, full of hunting trophies. “I look at all the candidates, I’ve talked to all of them … with the general candidates,” he says, excluding leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon and ecologist Yannick Jadot from that list, critics of hunting and banning it over the weekend. In favor of. and during school holidays. Nor did he invite them to the traditional pre-election meeting of the FNC held on 22 March. All the other presidential candidates were called upon to present their vision and promises on the hunt. Four of them—conservative Valerie Pecrese, ultra ric Zemour, communist Fabian Roussel and villager Jean Lasale—were personally hunted to vote. Two others, far-right Marine Le Pen and President Emmanuel Macron, who argued the Ukrainian crisis, sent representatives to attend a meeting in 2017.

Hunters clear a deer and a wild boar in the Veli forest.
Hunters clear a deer and a wild boar in the Veli forest.Pierre-Yves Thienpont (LE SOIR)

This is inconsistent attention if one takes into account that only one in five French people are in favor of hunting and the vast majority support banning it on holidays. The proposal fully entered the campaign after a new hunting accident in February, when a 25-year-old girl, who was walking through a forest, was killed by a stray bullet from a hunter in the Cantal area.

both left and right concessions

Then why so many considerations with predators, to whom presidents, both left and right, have made many concessions in recent decades? Like Macron, who has reduced the price of hunting permits (which cost him the resignation of his first ecological transition minister, Nicolas Hulot) and re-established presidential hunting, until Jacques Chirac gave them Not finished in 1995, French leaders entertained special guests.

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“With the French Revolution, privileges were abolished and among these, hunting was monopolized by the elite”, explains anthropologist Charles Stefanoff, author of L’Animal et la Mort: Chase, Modernite and Cris du Sauvage, An investigation on poachers in France. Since then, he says, “the popular idea prevails in France that hunting is something for everyone.”

Things have never been exactly like this, and the fact that three-quarters of French forests are private proves it. However, the idea of ​​hunting as a “popular pastime” received a new impetus among the working classes after World War II and continues to this day. “The hunt is an achievement of our history, of the revolution (…)

Hunters during a hunt in the Valley Forest on January 26.
Hunters during a hunt in the Valley Forest on January 26. Pierre-Yves Thienpont (LE SOIR)

Apart from the historical motivations, there is a cold reckoning that neither the right nor the left candidates forget.

“We are a million votes”, summarized in reference to the Frenchman with an active hunting license Lille, a 51-year-old hunter from Amiens, who believes those who oppose him, “because they have never hunted”. And there are more than four million if you count all the predators with permission, even if they don’t activate it all season.

In addition, the hunting unites in a rural France, increasingly deprived of services. “If there were no hunting in the rural world, we would have no social life, because in rural areas there are no open businesses and very few unions,” says Emmanuel Lavoisier. In addition, the hunters are very well organized: France has 70,000 unions spread over 35,000 communities. “In every city we have a hunting structure, we are the last Stalinist network in the rural world,” jokes—or not—Willy Schraen.

Above all, hunters vote. In particular, its president claims, if he feels that his “passion” is at risk, as is now happening with a proposal to ban hunting on holidays. In 2002 he also had his own candidate for the lysée, Jean Saint-José, from the Party of Hunting, Fishing, Nature and Traditions. He got 4.2 percent of the vote. Insufficient, but not an insignificant percentage, to qualify for the electoral final (double the current forecasts for candidates such as socialists Anne Hidalgo or Roussel), especially in this 2022, when margin favorites among candidates qualify with Macron. to do. The second lap is so tight that every vote counts more than ever.

“Today in France, between the first and second rounds, the difference can be as much as 400,000 votes. And we have four million people with hunting permits in their pockets”, recalls Shrene.

It is not necessarily a question of left or right: according to the Ifop Demoscopic Institute, in 2012, 28% of hunters voted for Nicolas Sarkozy and 25% for Marine Le Pen, but another 23% supported socialist François Hollande. and up to 11% to melanchon. Five years later, 26% chose Le Pen, 25% for Macron, 24.7% for the conservative François Fillon and, again, 16.7% for Mélenchon. “In political and media discourse, hunters are spoken of as if they were a unified entity, all in a single basket. It is as if we were talking about musicians as a single sociocultural group, when there is everything from rappers to opera singers”, warned anthropologist Stefanoff.

But hunting brings them together, Shren insists. He gave his verdict a week after hearing the candidates: “I will vote for Macron from the first round,” he announced. Le Parisien, However, he advises other applicants not to dismiss hunters. “Ladies and gentlemen candidates – he reminded them during the conference – hunting is not a passion like others, it is a way of life. You can change your passion, but changing your way of life is unimaginable for many people. Don’t forget”.

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