Letat est Emannuel

• A big swing to M. Blanc and Mme Abstention
- A quarter of voters stayed at home (or went away – it’s a Bank Holiday today!)
- The French Left abstained in 1969, when George Pompidou (ironically, not the centrist candidate, geddit ?!) defeated a Liberal to replace De Gaulle.
- Ok the level of abstention was (a bit) lower than the 1969, but this confirms with my observation of two weeks ago, that the electorate is not happy with its choices.
- Of those who did vote, the number of 'blanc votes', spoiled or unmarked papers was 12.3%. This was a record high and double 1969’s level.
- Suggesting the political disconnect is arguably twice as great as après les événements de 1968.

• As predicted, the Hard Right were thrashed but …
- But nowhere near as thoroughly as M. Le Pen was in 2001
- Marine le Pen (#NotaMarineNoraPen) won over one third of a national vote and still took several départements
- FN also added to its vote from the first round – the opinion polls suggested about a quarter of the conservative vote would transfer (plus 10% of the Hard Left’s … !)
- This suggests FN’s imminent rebranding could draw a bit more support if the mainstream conservative party does not rebound.
- This is a problem in waiting for the Assemblée Nationale elections in June – don’t forget Macron doesn’t actually lead any party.

• Messages for the UK
- The opinion polls were bang on
- To create a consensus, our parties need to focus beyond the lowest common denominator of getting their core vote out
- People are dissatisfied and need engaging with a coherent vision
- Beware of the low turnout, Labour – sometimes you get what you didn’t bargain for (see my blog on Tees Valley and the local elections)
- Choosing not to compromise with other progressive forces can be a risky business for the Left, if you can’t mobilise at least a third of your electorate under one banner

• The limits of authenticity
- This result underlines that political authenticity is not enough for an anti-Establishment candidate to win
- People have to believe in the policies and the competence of a candidate as well as their firmness of conviction
- Speaking to our own concerns was twice as important for the anti-Establishment Le Pen’s supporters as Macron’s. Yet, she lost heavily.
- Depth of commitment is no substitute for breadth of support.

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