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Legislative elections in the Pyrénées-Orientales – Olivier Rouquan: “The French remain distant from the public debate”

Political scientist, researcher at the Center for Studies and Research in Administrative and Political Sciences, member of the scientific council of the political and parliamentary review, Olivier Rouquan takes a look for L’Indépendant on the campaign for the legislative elections. The strengths and weaknesses of the presidential majority and the New People’s Ecological and Social Union (Nupes), the disaffection of some citizens for this vote, which is crucial for the conduct of France over the next five years, the hopes of the Rassemblement national or even the status of left-wing dissident candidates, Cérétan delivers its analyzes and perspectives before the first round this Sunday, June 12.

How do you view this campaign for the legislative elections, the first round of which is being held this Sunday, June 12?

It is a look that I would describe as circumspect with legislative elections which are quite invisible and inaudible to public opinion. Even more than usual. Because of the greater gap than previously between this election and the presidential election, because of the almost non-existent presidential campaign, one could have expected the political actors to seize on this sequence to address the challenges of the future for the country. We can clearly see that this is not the case. It is clear that the French are far from the public debate and are interested in it little enough to plan to abstain strongly in the end. A missed opportunity in the end.

It is not certain that the electorates of the right and of the center-left are mobilizing as much for the candidates of Emmanuel Macron as during the presidential election.

Which political movements could suffer from a significant abstention during this first round?

We know that those who abstain tend to be those from the most disadvantaged categories. We know that those who swarm the most during legislative elections, following a presidential election, are those who have lost. Finally, we know that the youngest are also those who abstain the most. We will have three poles which are likely to be confirmed. But there could be a fourth due to the weakness of the LREM campaign. The appointment of the government of Elisabeth Bornz does not arouse support. The few political pieces of information that stand out about the government are unfavorable. The question of Damien Abad first, then the questions of the pension reform. All of this can discourage an electorate who mobilized from the first round during the presidential election for Emmanuel Macron. Will he start again? If the right-wing electorate, if the center-left electorate, who voted for Emmanuel Macron, also abstain more, will Renaissance (ex LREM) obtain an absolute majority in the National Assembly? We can ask ourselves the question.

The pitfalls of the Nupes

On the left, one of the main arguments of the New Popular Ecological and Social Union (Nupes) is the appointment of Jean-Luc Mélenchon to Matignon. But is it finally a possibility on the evening of June 19?

It is true that this is his main argument. I will be careful not to say that it is impossible. Is this the most likely hypothesis? I don’t think so, although he is indeed leading a very active campaign and the union, which leftist sympathizers have long wanted, has almost been achieved. It is logical that there is hope among this electorate. We have a presidential camp which is struggling to be attractive and a camp of a recently united left. However, this dynamic has pitfalls. Much of his potential electorate is young and the question arises whether they will mobilize. It is also clear that there is a whole section of the moderate left which does not accept the leadership of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the LFI. Won’t that penalize this camp? Finally, the forces today which could be in the majority in the constituencies, with a left-wing electorate which elects Nupe deputies, seem less well distributed over the whole territory than the centrist pole. In terms of seat, there will be a gap.

The RN still has difficulty finding sufficiently established and credible local politicians

Even if she is herself a legislative candidate in Pas-de-Calais, Marine Le Pen has long remained in the background of this legislative campaign. Can his electorate, much larger in the 2022 presidential election than in 2017, say that there is no interest in traveling on June 12 and 19? The subject also arises for Eric Zemmour?

This may seem surprising, just as it is surprising that no agreement has emerged between the two political parties. We can understand that a presidential candidate needs to recover, but the lack of investment of the RN in this campaign seems to show the permanence of its weaknesses. Namely, find local politicians who are sufficiently established and credible. This has progressed, but is still insufficient. There is also obviously its difficulty in making “marinism” a reality everywhere. There is a gap between the presidential election of Marine Le Pen and the RN apparatus. Now, and for the first time, it could exceed thirty deputies. This would be anything but negligible compared to 2017. We must therefore not go too fast in the analyses.

Despite the creation of the Nupes, there are dissenting candidacies on the left. Fewer than expected in the end, but they do exist. What weight can they have knowing that, in the Pyrénées-Orientales, 72.5% of voters chose Marine Le Pen, Jean-Luc Mélenchon or Emmanuel Macron?

There are national factors that have meant that Jean-Luc Mélenchon has not taken advantage of the last five years to build unity before the presidential election. Inevitably at the last moment, there are dissidents, because there are blunders and it lacked oil, as well as discussions beforehand nationally. At the local level, there are traces of the fights of the Regional and the Departmental, with members of insubordinate France who were very aggressive vis-à-vis the socialists and the communists. All this does not cauterize in a few weeks. Then, there is something which is not clarified and which can push the “moderates” to defend a residue of social democracy: we do not know if the Nupes ultimately remains a pole of a hard left or is it the foreshadowing of a new left-wing party which would moderate the positions of France Insoumise. To date, we don’t know.

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