Regional Elections: French Citizens Opt for a Walkout!
More than 65% of French voters abstained in the country’s June 20 local and regional elections, a historic record! The mirror image conveyed by the results confirmed that, after months of stress in dealing with the pandemic, the French nation is in disarray. But the handling of COVID-19 is only the last straw of the long-term decline that has led to the population’s complete lack of trust in its elites, be they political, eco nomic, intellectual or in the media, which is expressed in the huge abstention rate, which some are calling a civil strike.
For years now, rage has been building against soaring unemployment, a severe drop in living standards for the middle and lower classes, higher taxes (compounded by the recent «climate taxes»), a visible decline in the public school system’s previous high standards, badly run immigration polices, and an overall rising sense of insecurity. Added to that is the broad dysfunctioning of the electoral process, due to the outsourcing to private companies of the distribution of ballots and election material to the voting offices.
The results of the first round of the elections also revealed major discrepancies between “opinion polls” and actual results, pointing towards possible attempts to manipulate the results. In recent months, the media have presented a Macron/ Le Pen duel in the 2022 presidential elections as a done deal, which would mean a second term for President Macron, since the only way to get a discredited politician elected in France since 2002, has been to have him run against bogeyman Marine Le Pen.
In last weekend’s elections however, Macron’s party, LREM, came in a miserable last of the five main parties, with barely 10%, despite the fact that no less than 15 ministers and state secretaries were running on various slates! Le Pen’s party, the National Rally (previously the National Front), which some expected would come in first in some 6 regional races, received
10% fewer votes than in 2015. The ecologists also had very
high expectations nationwide, which did not materialize.
The “winners” of the regional elections were generally incumbents, both from the conservative Republicans and the Socialist Party, re-elected by their limited local base.
The attempt to recycle the old “Le Pen versus X” scheme has thus blown up in the face of its instigators, something which Jacques Cheminade contributed to producing with the slogan “Neither Marine, nor Manu, but a Free France”. (“Manu” is the nickname for Emmanuel, while the Free French refers to the need to defend the values of the resistance against nazism.) The results presage turmoil ahead for France, since the conditions that caused the abstention on June 20 are the same that led to the rise of the Yellow Vest movement in 2018, whose demands were never addressed.