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French Election Analyis: the confrontation between two versions of France

French Election Analyis: the confrontation between two versions of France

Almost two weeks after the results of the first round of the presidential elections, we now have clearer view of the respective electorates of Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. According to analyst Jérôme Fourquet of the Jean Jaurès institute: “Analysis of post-election poll data and the map of results shows that the two finalists rely on two distinct versions of France which are opposed term to term, both socio-culturally and geographically, but also by way of personal and collective trajectory.”

Indeed, the President obtained his highest support with wealthy retirees as well as with young people under the age of 25. In contrast, the electorate of Marine Le Pen is strong amongst both young and old working professionals. According to data from the IFOP institute, as Mr. Fourquet points out, Le Pen is particularly popular among working people aged 35 to 49.

Moreover, this divide is geographical between an electorate of Marine Le Pen which is more rural as opposed to Emmanuel Macron’s, which is more urban in composition. According to Stewart Chau, Director of Political and Opinion Studies and Adrien Broche Opinion Consultant, from the Viavoice Institute: “The separation theorized by the British journalist David Goodhart opposing the ‘somewheres’, a fringe of the population who identifies strongly with a geographical, cultural or historical constant, to the ‘anywheres’, a fraction of the population that does not recognize these strong ties”.

One of the first lessons from these observations is that the French vote more according to their social condition. Ideology seems to be a minor factor whereas the concrete proposals which have an impact on the purchasing power, environment or security are decisive and reveal the French fractures which can be found in the rest of Western Europe.

Finally, this sociological rural/urban, active/inactive or somewheres/anywheres divide puts into perspective an almost schizophrenic attitude to Europe between an uninhibited vision of globalization and the instinct of conservation of a socio-cultural model.

Advantage to Macron

This ambivalence was perfectly illustrated by the debate on Wednesday April 20, 2022. On the one hand, the President perfectly fulfilled his role as president of the elites with his fine mastery of his files, while Marine Le Pen contrasted with a more cautious attitude almost hesitant during the presentation of the proposals.

However, Macron’s assertiveness quickly turned into arrogance and Le Pen’s feigned humility into feverishness. In terms of content, we could find the patterns of President Macron: Europe, sustainable development and cosmopolitanism as opposed to sovereignty and nationalism of Marine Le Pen. However, the question of Marine Le Pen’s ties to President Putin has deeply disqualified her to a substantial proportion of the voters.

This debate did not captivate the French, which is corroborated by its low audience compared to the previous ones. It is also necessary to relativize its impact on the election – Macron has already widened the gap in the polls.

To conclude, it is very likely Macron’s France that has the best chance of winning this Sunday: a France that represents wealthy, ageing, cosmopolitan citizens, concerned about the environment and certainly very worried about the war in Donbass. Macron seeks to ensure the continuity of his political line and should remain constant strategically and tactically.


Antoine Clement

I currently hold a position as a Senior Director with public affairs expert in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. I work mostly with the Duty Free and Travel Retail industry and also support the public affairs team with regards to transport and agri-food topics. I joined the Penta team in 2016 after over 5 years’ experience lobbying in Paris.
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