France Analysis

The long shadow of abstention hanging over France's parliamentary elections

This Sunday’s first round of voting in France’s parliamentary elections is predicted to see newly-elected centrist president Emmanuel Macron’s fledgling party emerge with a resounding lead. But also forecast is a poor, and possibly record-low, turnout. Mediapart political commentator Hubert Huertas argues here that, as usual, the abstention rate will be largely ignored by those who win, and used by those who lose to hide the true significance of their defeat, while in fact it delivers a powerful political message to all parties.  

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It is as regular as clockwork; when the results of the day’s voting become clear on election nights in France, the abstention rate is swiftly forgotten by those who won, while it is loudly underlined by those who lost. The euphoric victors announce that “the people” have decided, while the sorry defeated maintain that the result is an optical illusion, that they didn’t really lose because their rivals didn’t really win.

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