The blank or zero vote first came during the consultation that Jean-Luc Mélenchon conducted with his supporters for the second round of the presidential elections. Whether by a blank vote or an abstention, two-thirds of these activists chose not to vote for Emmanuel Macron. However, the leader of France Insoumise scored very high among young people and it is a generational gap that is emerging in the electorate today, according to Mathieu Gallard, study director at the polling institute Ipsos, interviewed on franceinfo on 17th April.
>> Presidential election 2022: Two-thirds of Jean-Luc Mélenchon supporters polled by La France insoumise decide not to vote for Emmanuel Macron
franceinfo: Is there a generation gap at the time of the vote?
Matthew Gallard: We saw that back in 2017, but it’s become even clearer. Among the young, the under-35s, there is a very strong voice for Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who ranks first among them, but also for Marine Le Pen, while among the seniors, the over-60s, Emmanuel Macron takes a very wide lead. In fact, there are more and more completely divergent political behaviors between the generations.
️ Voting in the first round of the presidential election by age, an important factor for the three main candidates. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/g0Z4hjS3Kh
— Mathieu Gallard (@mathieugallard) April 11, 2022
And obviously, this generation gap includes in particular differences in terms of positions and preferences on the economic and social policies to be pursued, as well as conflicts of values, with in particular all issues related to minority rights and immigration, on which young and old have very different views and perceptions.
Can teenagers also have the feeling of being forgotten a little by macaroni?
Emmanuel Macron had said a lot during his 2017 election campaign and put a lot of emphasis on youth, it really is a tradition of election campaigns. And it’s true that some of the youth may have felt forgotten, especially during the health crisis. We really feel it when we listen to young people, whether they are students, whether they are young workers in this field. And then there was a campaign by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, which was extremely effective on the ground and spoke in particular about the purchasing power that attracted part of the votes of this electorate. And Marine Le Pen was also in the same niche, very active and very offensive on this social issue. This has obviously attracted these young people entering the workforce who are extremely insecure, even concerned, about their future.
There are social problems, but there are also climate problems, the idea of a world ruined by the “boomers”?
Absolutely. It is true that we saw during the campaign that the environment is a major concern for the French, right after the question of purchasing power, but very high among young people, almost as strong as purchasing power. And then Jean-Luc Mélenchon obviously had the intelligence to raise this environmental issue in his election campaign. And that enabled him to exploit within the left Yannick Jadot, who, however, was evidently identified as the strongest candidate on this environmental issue early in the campaign.
Aren’t we also in a more classic phenomenon, of greater radicalism among young people and greater moderation among older people?
As for the moderation of older people, we’re going to say that among older voters, whatever happens, election after election, there is more legitimate behavior. There is a tendency to give more support to the party in power. This can be found almost systematically and in many countries.
“Youth extremism? Not necessarily. A few years ago, at least a decade ago, there wasn’t actually a very marked difference between the votes of young people and the votes of other sections of the population.”Mathieu Gallard
We saw that they voted a little more for the centre-left, for the ecologists, but the differences ended up not being very pronounced. In 2017, for the first time, we had a really clear gap and that’s where it was even accentuated. In a France that we know to be very fragmented socially and geographically, if we add this generational dimension, it paints a somewhat worrying picture of the country and its future.
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In the consultation launched by the Insoumis, their activists were given the choice of abstaining, the white vote, or the Macron vote for the second round. Last week you told us that according to Ipsos polls, almost 20% of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s voters would vote for Marine Le Pen?
Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the leaders of La France insoumise were very clear. On the night of the first round, they said there would be “no vote for Marine Le Pen”. Logically, they did not offer this option to their militants. In any case, what we are seeing is that the percentage of Jean-Luc Mélenchon voters who would vote for Marine Le Pen has tended to shrink somewhat over the past few days and since the first ballot because of the weather [elle est passée de 18% le 13 avril à 16% le 16 avril, selon le sondage Ipsos pour franceinfo et Le Parisien-Aujourd’hui en France]. We have the impression that the famous Republican front is being built up very, very slowly, in a very run down version compared to what we had in 2017 and even more so in 2002. But little by little it is built up. We now have less than one in five Jean-Luc Mélenchon voters making that choice, versus a large third who would vote for Emmanuel Macron.