Presidential Elections: Voting in France in a Time of Exception Listen to this article

were before yellow vest, Then the pandemic. Now, Vladimir Putin’s war. Emmanuel Macron has ruled France for five years through crises and social outcry, a state of political exception that, essentially, ends on April 10 and 24 to mark the presidential elections. There has been almost no campaign, and some huge rallies like the one President Macron held in Paris on Saturday. No subject of debate stirs up enthusiasm, no candidate, and neither is the wind of change of era in France today, ahead of the 2017 elections. Ukraine is stifling the campaign. Anesthesia. in your daily column news paper les icosThe editorialist Céline Cornudet summed up: “The air has been politicised”.

This is not the first inconsistent campaign in recent times. They were among the last two elections that coincided with the pandemic: the 2020 municipal elections and the 2021 regional elections. And before that, the French had voted during the rebellion. yellow vest, and Islamic attacks. and economic crisis.

“Before we lived in a relatively quiet democracy,” Bryce Tinturier, representative general director of the Ipsos Demoscopic Institute in France, tells EL PAÍS. “Every five years, we meet again in the great electoral landscape to face projects, control conflicts. And the people decided. But now we are in a world of increasingly brutal and sudden crises that take us away from the democratic ritual of one big vote every five years.

Result 1: Demonetisation. This flat campaign, as has already happened with municipal and regional ones, motivates the French less than usual and can lead to an abstinence rate closer to 30% (in 2017 it was 22%).

The Second Consequence of a Time of War and Pandemic: Fear of Change, Demand for Security.

“The first thing that comes from the President of the French Republic is his ability to understand and respond to his problems. The second is the ability to cope with serious crises”, says Tinturier. “Undoubtedly, this gives Emmanuel Macron an advantage, as the French see his ability to manage crises superior to others. Ultimately, what will be decisive will be the safety of the French and the seriousness of the candidate.”

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The third consequence of the unusual context of presidential elections: a succession of crises sometimes expresses – in the case of the Yellow Vest – or hides – as in this apparently sober campaign – the constellation of ill-health that sweeps through French society. It moves with.

There is a regional malaise. of a rural country, of small and medium-sized cities that are far from economic centers and metropolitan cities associated with globalization. this is france yellow vestThe French, who, in reaction to rising fuel prices, took tolls and roundabouts in late 2018 and put Macron on the ropes.

There is also an identity malaise. young children or grandchildren of immigrants who feel discriminated against and find themselves trapped in bannlies, a suburban neighborhood where, according to Macron, “the promise of a republic has been broken”, that is, the French meritocratic dream. Along with this trouble is another one that concerns identity: that of the French who feel in a state of cultural insecurity due to immigration and rapid social changes. Before him, candidates such as Ultra Eric Zemor stirred up conspiracy theories such as the great replacement of native European populations of Arab and African descent.

The third problem is economic. Macros have reduced unemployment, increased purchasing power over a five-year period and, after the pandemic gripped, the economy returned to growth at an unusual rate in recent decades. But the rise in prices, which started even before the invasion of Ukraine, has accelerated. The government has disbursed 30,000 million euros since the autumn to reduce it, but purchasing power fell 1.4% in the first quarter and inflation in March was 4.5%, compared to the same month in 2021, which was in the eighties. was the highest level since then.

Today, purchasing power is the primary concern of voters, and extreme candidates, Marine Le Pen on the right and Jean-Luc Mélenchon on the left, have taken advantage of it.

weekly Le Canard Enchany, with good sources in Macron’s admission, revealed this week that, at a meeting in the Elysee, a minister offered this diagnosis: “People are getting used to the images of war. There is a risk that Ukraine will no longer be an issue of compassion, but an issue of purchasing power, with a rise in energy prices and perhaps food.”

According to the latest Ipsos poll, Macron’s vote expectation in the first round is 26.5%, followed by Le Pen, with 20%, and Mélenchon, with 16%. All institutions match with little change.

The President is a matter of three. On the one hand, Macron’s broader center, which ranges from former socialist voters to moderate right-wing voters, who defend European integration, NATO and liberal democracy. He is the candidate of the system. On the other hand, an extreme right wing and a populist leftist, by opposing ideological positions, advocate for France to leave NATO or a parity between the bloc, to challenge the European Union in its current form, and to ally with Macron. Express trouble, which is also an inconvenience. , with System.

Ipsos’s tinturier believes candidates with “vision” stand out in the nebula of these elections. “Marine Le Pen has a vision,” he says. “We already see what kind of society he proposes: rights, rejection of immigration, protection. We also see Mélanchon’s model: his grave is a society in which the goal would be harmony among people, a more humane society. And Macron has a global vision, though more difficult to define: an open society, an amalgamation between a society of trust, responsibility and freedom.

Macros are still a favorite. The extraordinary nature of this time may reinforce the idea that it is better not to change the president in the midst of a crisis. But the campaign’s modest tone, apparent lack of interest, leaves many experts distrustful. “It is in moments of political apathy”, warns Cornudet, les icos“When Democratic Accidents Can Happen”.

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