Like five years ago, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen came out on top in the presidential election on Sunday evening. Other similarities appear, such as the good performance of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the failures of Europe Ecologie-Les Verts and the Socialist Party (who had applied jointly behind Benoît Hamon in 2017). Marked by the collapse of the Republicans, the 2022 election is also that of the emergence of Eric Zemmour.
What should we conclude from these continuities and discontinuities? Do they reveal geographical lessons on the different French territories? The geographer Frédéric Gilli, professor at the Urban School of Sciences Po, gives us the first lessons of this election.
What are the main lessons of the first round?
Frederic Gilli: With the collapse of the two major historical parties (PS and LR), it is tempting to think that yesterday we experienced a major turning point. However, paradoxically, the results are very stable.
The real break in fact took place during the 2017 presidential election. That of 2022 rather stabilizes positions, in particular for Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, who confirm their results in the territories they had been able to win five years earlier. early.
By analyzing the large masses and aggregating the number of voices, other continuities appear. Thus, by grouping the scores of Yannick Jadot and Anne Hidalgo, we find that of Benoît Hamon in 2017. Ditto for the block Marine Le Pen and Nicolas Dupont-Aignan.
Finally, Jean-Luc Mélenchon certainly obtains better results than in 2017, especially in a context of higher abstention. But it reaps especially where it had already been strong five years ago.
Collapse of LR, appearance of Eric Zemmour, there are all the same elements which reshuffle the cards…
F.G.: The collapse of LR is indeed the most significant event of the election. Where have the voters of François Fillon gone? Mainly at Emmanuel Macron. When we observe how the latter has progressed territorially between the first round of 2017 and that of 2022, the map is almost a copy and paste of that of the Fillon vote in 2017, with significant breakthroughs in the northern half of France, in particular in Brittany and Normandy.
There are, however, two exceptions to this transfer: Corsica and the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, where the former voters of François Fillon turned more to Eric Zemmour. But we can read there a radicalization of a vote which was already very polarized, rather than a political earthquake.
Is there a particularly discriminating geographical vote? In 2017, you reminded us that geography can be misleading…
F.G.: There are two pitfalls to avoid when commenting on electoral results through the prism of geography. The first: giving it too much importance. We showed, in a study for Terra Novathat geography is useful for understanding an election, but that it is only one explanatory factor among others.
Second pitfall: cartographic representation, which has several potential biases. The first: underestimating the issue of density. On a map of results by municipality, Paris has the same “place” as a very large rural municipality, while the electoral weight is very different.
Moreover, it is extremely misleading to analyze the electoral map by looking only at which candidate came out on top. Thus, in 2017, a large part of the map of the northeast was colored black because, in many municipalities, it was Marine Le Pen who had won the most votes. But if we looked closely at the scores, Emmanuel Macron was often very close.
These precautions taken, is there a marked geographical vote?
FG: We can say that Marine Le Pen has a geographical vote in the former large working-class basins of the northeast, in the sense that she is now structurally there.
We also see that Jean-Luc Mélenchon has established a significant presence in large cities and their suburbs (including peri-urban areas such as Seine-et-Marne). But it has also consolidated its positions in a large area that goes from Ariège to the Hautes-Alpes, passing through Dordogne, Périgord, Corrèze, Ardèche and Drôme.
“Yesterday’s election confirmed a reality that is now firmly established: young people, working classes and rural dwellers do not recognize themselves in the dominant political offer”
However, once again, we must be careful in these analyzes based on cartography rather than geography: the electorate seduced by Jean-Luc Mélenchon has the main characteristic of being very structured on the generational level: they are massively those under 35 -40 years who voted for him… and these young people are present throughout the territory.
The emergence of Eric Zemmour also helps to rewrite the major balances of electoral geography. Part of François Fillon’s electorate has, as we have said, chosen Eric Zemmour. If we add this new Eric Zemmour vote to that for Marine Le Pen, we see a fairly clear rural vote emerge, including in regions such as Normandy or the Pays de Loire, territories in which the conservative vote in the countryside was partly fixed. by Republicans.
Have the campaigns turned to the far right?
FG: I wouldn’t put it that way. To say “there is a rural vote in favor of the extreme right” would mean that there is a categorical rural vote which would choose a rural political project supported by the extreme right. This is not the case.
On the other hand, we note that a large part of rural voters do not project themselves on Emmanuel Macron and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who speak to them little.
Marine Le Pen takes advantage of this and takes care to address them. In fact, she has no particular program on the subject. But when she speaks of “demetropolitization”, which she defines as a “territorial rebalancing for the benefit of medium-sized towns and the countryside”, for example, it tries to seduce this electorate that the others neglect more. She manages to capture a part of this population that feels forgotten.
For me, it is in any case not a vote of adhesion, but rather a vote of default.
Isn’t this a simple composition effect? We know that Marine Le Pen won the vote of employees and workers, and that they are proportionally more numerous in the countryside than in town.
FG: Social composition plays a big role. You mentioned workers and employees, and that can indeed explain a large part of Marine Le Pen’s results in all these territories.
But the countryside is even more singularized by the presence of farmers. However, their vote turned twice more towards Emmanuel Macron than towards Marine Le Pen. This testifies well to the complexity of the trajectories and the votes, well beyond an overall adhesion of rurality for the candidate of the RN.
Similarly, we note that Yannick Jadot won 8% of the votes of farmers registered on the electoral lists, i.e. 16% of those cast (nearly half of the farmers abstained): it was even the CSP for which he obtained his best score!
As we can see, the configurations are complex. You have to cross-reference the geographical dimension with age and CSP, and the result of this equation is sometimes surprising.
Should we therefore conclude… that we cannot conclude much from this election?
F.G.: I wouldn’t say that. There are real sociological, geographic and demographic differences in the votes cast yesterday, as in those who abstained.
Yesterday’s election confirmed a reality that is now firmly established: three categories of the population do not recognize themselves in the dominant political offer proposed to them. Whether it’s La République en Marche (LREM) today, or the PS and LR yesterday, none have been able to make room for young people, the working classes and the inhabitants of the countryside in the projects they carry out for the ‘coming.
The default vote for Marine Le Pen is a reminder of the absence of reflection and discourse on the place that can be given in the country to these three categories of population. An issue that goes far beyond the second round, and which will undoubtedly be one of the keys to the mandate and the election of… 2027.
We wish to give thanks to the author of this post for this outstanding material
Results of the first round: “The real break took place in 2017”
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