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what to remember from the first round of voting

Massive abstention, bonus for leavers, disappointment for the National Rally, rout for La République en Marche… France 24 takes stock of the main lessons of the first round of regional elections.

The elections in France follow one another and they are, each time, a little more marked by abstention. The first round of regional elections, Sunday, June 20, was no exception to the rule with an abstention rate estimated between 66.1% and 68.6% by pollsters.

Beyond the very low turnout, several notable facts should be highlighted before the second round of voting which will take place on Sunday, June 27. France 24 takes stock.

  • A record abstention, the political class “worried”

“Abyssal”, “crazy abstention”, “civic disaster”: the political class as a whole deplored the low rate of participation recorded in the first round of regional and departmental elections.

Although expected, abstention exceeded, according to initial estimates, the 60% anticipated by pollsters to reach between 66.1% and 68.6% – a record since the five-year referendum on September 24, 2000 (69 , 8%).

>> To read: Regional 2021: Karima Delli and the left united in combat in Hauts-de-France

“The level of abstention is particularly worrying,” reacted a few seconds after 8 pm the Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin, on his Twitter account. “Our collective work must be focused on mobilizing the French for the second round.”


“No one can take out the champagne tonight” in the face of this “abysmal abstention”, added the spokesman of the government, Gabriel Attal, attributing the low participation to the health crisis of the Covid-19 which prevented the holding of a electoral campaign in due form.

An explanation rejected by the opposition, left and right, which referred the responsibility for this “sad record” to the executive, pinning the series of hiccups – polling stations closed in Marseille for lack of assessors, missing ballots in several cities – listed in recent days.

Others see it as a deeper evil. “When two out of three voters don’t come to a poll, it’s not disinterest or fear of the virus. It is in itself a political act. And this is certainly not to be put into perspective ”, tweeted the deputy for Paris and vice-president of the National Assembly, Hugues Renson (LREM).


  • Leavers bonus in most regions

No doubt this is also the result of the low participation, the results of the first round give a real bonus to the leavers. Local barons Xavier Bertrand in Hauts-de-France, Laurent Wauquiez in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Carole Delga in Occitanie, Valérie Pécresse in Île-de-France or Alain Rousset in his New Aquitaine all turned widely in the lead on Sunday evening and can calmly wait for their probable re-election next week.

Their good results were expected but not in these proportions. The ex-boss of LR, Laurent Wauquiez, almost titillates the re-election in the first round with 45 to 46.8% of the votes according to estimates.

>> To read: Regional 2021: on the right, a distance game between Bertrand, Pécresse and Wauquiez

The left can, for its part, hope to keep its five metropolitan regions: Brittany, Center-Val-de-Loire, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, New Aquitaine and Occitanie.

Should we see a return of the old left-right divide and an electoral game that would be reshuffled in view of 2022? “We should not learn lessons for the presidential election,” tempers political scientist Gérard Grunberg. “These regional are the replica of the municipal ones. There is a bonus for graduates. We vote for the one whose head we know, the one who sometimes has a small clientele,” he told AFP. The political scientist Rémi Lefebvre, on France Inter, is also “very struck by this phenomenon of legitimist reflex and bonus to graduates”.

  • Net ebb for the National Rally

The RN comes first in only one region, in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (Paca), achieving lower scores than expected, in a test ballot for its president and candidate for the Élysée Marine Le Pen.

The far-right party, which recorded between 8 and 9 points less than in 2015, when it was leading in five regions on the evening of the first round, does not appear to be in a position to win anywhere. except Paca.

>> To read: Regional 2021: Thierry Mariani, the lethal weapon of Marine Le Pen in Paca

Marine Le Pen acknowledged Sunday evening that his voters had “not moved” and called for “a start” for the second round. She invited her voters “not to let themselves be influenced by the results of the first round and to mobilize their efforts to wrest the victories that France needs”.


“We have the right to be angry, we have the right to bitch, but we will not change the policy in our country without replacing the policies that are in power,” said Jordan Bardella, number 2 of the RN, arrived second in Île-de-France but largely left behind by Valérie Pécresse (ex-LR).

  • A rout for the Republic on the march

Eliminated in Hauts-de-France, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Occitanie, barely more than 10% in other regions: the lists of La République en Marche and its allies experienced a severe rout, depriving Macronie any possibility of being kingmaker.

“I’m not going to make a joke: yes, of course we have disappointments” to have “achieved this score,” euphemized the head of the presidential party, Stanislas Guerini, on RTL.


LREM wanted to be modest, hoping to garner 15% of the vote, perhaps even more in some regions, as some optimistic polls predicted. Alas: the presidential party has convinced only about 10 to 11% of voters.

Worse: he was eliminated from the second round in Occitanie, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and especially in Hauts-de-France, where Minister Laurent Pietraszewski is announced between 7.3% (Harris Interactive) and 9.1% (Ifop) , despite the presence of four other members of the government on its list – Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Éric Dupond-Moretti, Gérald Darmanin and Alain Griset -, and while LREM aimed to hamper the outgoing president, Xavier Bertrand.

>> To read: Regional 2021: with its minister-candidates, The Republic on the march to attack the right

This Sunday buries, moreover, any hope of victory in the second round for La République en Marche and its allies in Center-Val-de-Loire, where the Minister of Relations with Parliament Marc Fesneau (MoDem) was long presented as a favorite. With a little over 16%, he certainly offers himself one of the best scores of the majority, but behind the outgoing François Bonneau (PS) and LR Nicolas Forissier.

With AFP and Reuters

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