Elections in France: How People Vote and Why

France is preparing for its presidential runoff election, a crucial event that could redefine the country’s political landscape. The first round revealed a deeply divided nation, with voters leaning mostly toward two opposing poles, leaving few options for centrist candidates. To better understand the social fabric behind these results, it is useful to consider the analysis compiled for Panorama.it by Alexandre Del Valle, a political scientist and essayist specializing in geopolitics, which outlines the dynamics behind the electoral preferences of different demographic groups.

The First Round Result: A Polarized Electorate

The first round results clearly showed an extreme polarization. Marine Le Pen of the Rassemblement National (RN) and Emmanuel Macron of La République En Marche (LREM) emerged as the main contenders. Le Pen gained strong support in rural areas and among the working classes, leveraging issues such as immigration and security. Macron, on the other hand, found his support mainly in urban areas and among the more educated and wealthy classes, thanks to a pro-European and reformist platform.

Youth: Between Idealism and Rebellion

According to Del Valle, “young French people are strongly influenced by their educational and family context, which contributes to an extremely polarized vote.” “Young people, those who are educated, especially those who go to university, are quite left-wing up to a certain age,” Del Valle says, highlighting the role of educational institutions in shaping young people’s political opinions. However, Del Valle notes significant mobility among young voters. “A young person is often also rebellious, it can happen very often that a young person is either far left by rebellion… or directly at the opposite extreme, looking at and voting with interest for the National Front.” This reflects a desire to counter the system, which leads young people to choose candidates at the extremes of the political spectrum rather than centrist ones.

Adults and Social Class: A Marked Distinction

As for the adult population, Del Valle highlights a clear division based on social categories. “Those who are workers, or the son of workers, rarely vote for the left,” explains Del Valle, indicating that the working classes therefore tend to support the front led by Le Pen and the RN. “These voters often feel neglected by government policies and see the radical right as a defense of their interests and security.” On the contrary, “those who are the son of a civil servant or petty bourgeois vote for the left,” underlines Del Valle, suggesting that economic security and level of education influence electoral choices. These voters tend to support Macron, attracted by his pro-European and reformist policies, which promise stability and progress.

Seniors: A Significant Change

A significant shift is also observed among older voters. Historically, this age group was more inclined to vote for moderate parties, avoiding the extremes. However, Del Valle notes that “before, the basic French, middle-aged or elderly, voted either socialist or communist or moderate right, but did not vote so much for the far right.” This attitude has changed significantly over time. “Today’s seniors, who are now 70, know almost nothing about the past, they have not lived through the Second World War, they are less traumatized by these types of historical events that have shaped our choices for many years and therefore the elderly are starting to vote much more far right than 30 years ago,” explains Del Valle. This shift is attributable to “a growing perception of insecurity and fear for the future.” The elderly, worried about their personal and social security, see the radical right as a protection against perceived threats.

The Republican Front: An Alliance Against the Rassemblement National

With a runoff election looming, the strategy of Macron and other centrist and left-wing parties will be crucial. Del Valle predicts that Macron will try to form a “republican front” to counter Le Pen. “It will be enough for the moderate right, the Macronists, plus the far left to have a majority of one or two votes more,” to form an alliance capable of defeating the RN. This republican front, Del Valle suggests, “could replicate the strategy adopted by Pedro Sánchez in Spain, where a coalition of the left, the far left and separatists allowed Sánchez to govern despite the right being the majority party.” France, with its long tradition of anti-fascism and resistance to the far right, could see a similar coalition form to prevent Le Pen from gaining power.

This weekend’s runoff election is therefore a crucial moment for France. The results of the first round have revealed a country deeply divided, with voters polarized between two extremes. Young people, influenced by education and driven by rebellion, are leaning toward radical positions. Adults and seniors, driven by economic and security concerns, are showing voting tendencies that reflect their changing experiences and perceptions. The outcome of the election will depend on the candidates’ ability to consolidate and mobilize their respective electoral bases, as well as their ability to build strategic alliances to overcome polarization. Given this, the runoff election promises to be a decisive moment for France’s political future, with profound implications for the country’s social fabric. The ability to form alliances and mobilize voters will be crucial to deciding which vision of the future prevails in France.