French voters have confused many politicians with a striking feint. Only a third of the population voted in the regional elections. And those votes did not go to the parties of the most popular politicians nationwide: President Emmanuel Macron and right-wing populist Marine Le Pen.
This is reflected in the forecasts and first results of the second round of the regional elections held today. It is estimated that about 65 percent of the French did not vote. At the first round, a week ago, that was 66 percent. Never in recent French history so few people went to the ballot box.
The historically low turnout is an important signal to politics. French people would have stayed home massively because they are suspicious and dissatisfied with their representatives. In the first round of 18 to 24-year-olds, only 1 in 10 voters voted, polls show.
The staying at home are manifested at an important moment: in a year, there will be presidential elections in France.
The outcomes of the regional elections are also surprising. The vote was mainly for the right-wing Les Républicains and the Socialists. They already had a lot of regional power and they hold it in their hands. Their good scores are at odds with their nationwide popularity, which is rather low.
Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron parties get the majority in not one region. Le Pens Rassemblement National (RN) managed to get a decent score in many regions, but did not end first anywhere. Macrons La République En Marche (LREM) played virtually nowhere to play a significant role.
This outcome is striking because Le Pen and Macron are the politicians who always go upside down in national polls.
Signal to politics
“This is a disappointment for us, but also a very important political event that we need to find an answer to,” the LREM said. Marine Le Pen was already looking ahead. “The French are turning away from politics and that‘s a signal to all politicians,” she said. “The presidential elections are more than ever the election we can change something.”
Many are looking forward to President Emmanuel Macron’s response to the regional elections. Some say he may appoint new ministers to reimpose his government. It is also not ruled out that he will change his policies.
Over the past few months, Macron has put more emphasis on issues such as security and Muslim extremism. He also started a tour of the country, “to gauze the mood among the French,” as his employees said.
The President also focuses more emphatically than before on young people. He recently made a video with two famous French YouTubers. And last week he even got a surprising visit to the Presidential Palace: Justin Bieber.