In the French elections, young people abstained or voted for Melenchon

In the French elections, young people abstained or voted for Melenchon – In the first round of the presidential elections, 42% of young people between 18 and 24 did not go to vote, marking a record abstention compared to the global rate of 25.2. The next day in France, media and analysts express concern over the skyrocketing youth abstention rate – in 2017 it was 27.8% – symptomatic of the growing lack of interest in politics, which, however, is offset by other forms of social commitment.

Furthermore, if young French people had been the only population group to vote yesterday, Jean-Luc Mèlenchon and Marine Le Pen would have gone to the ballot, instead of the duel between Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron. A vote therefore more oriented towards extremes, symptomatic of the protest that mounts in this age group.

According to the survey institute Ispos, the 18-24 year olds gave 31% of the preferences to the leader of France Insoumise (radical left), about 9 points more than the final result of 22%. In second position, 26% of them would have voted for the leader of the Rassemblement national (RN) while Macron, chosen by only 20% of the youngest electorate, would have been eliminated in the second round.

Le Pen is doing well as it has managed to put forward its purchasing power measuresthe issue that most worries young people “explained Mathieu Gallard, research director of Ipsos. For French analysts and pollsters, the record abstention of young people is not a surprise – at the 2021 regional elections 87% of them had abstained – but the result indicates on the one hand the loss of meaning of the vote and on the other the fact that they enter political life in a general atmosphere of discredit towards its protagonists.

According to an Ifop survey, only one third of 18-25 year olds consider political parties as a good way to change things, while the other two thirds prefer to engage in associations. Half of them see demonstrations as a better tool for making their voices heard. “Among the young we see a rather strong movement of political disaffiliation. Systematic abstention is on the rise and more than a third think that voting is not much use “noted Olivier Galland, sociologist, research director of CNRS.

While the demand for direct or participatory democracy is growingwhich is why young people vote more when they have an interest to defend, which for them has the same value as a street demonstration or the signing of a petition.

“The level of education is progressing and they have a lot more keys to understanding the political world, so they judge candidates. They have a more critical look, which is why they also change their minds more often about who to vote for,” Galland added. The loss of sense of the vote found among young people is a cause for concern, as for analysts in the medium to long term it will affect the democratic system itself.

A risk that has already emerged from a study by the Montaigne Institute: for 51% of respondents, having a democratic government “is not that important”. A result that seems to indicate a “worrying decline in attachment to democracy” warned Galland. On the other hand, even if they have turned their backs on the political system, these young people continue to have a certain interest in social issues, with the environment first. “It is a gap, a paradoxical rift, a sign that the political offer no longer works. The most striking example is that the strong commitment to the environment among young people did not translate into a vote in support of Yannick Jadot nor in greater proximity to the EELV party, proof of the widespread discredit of the world of politics “, concluded the CNRS scholar.


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