First round of voting has started abroad

At a polling station in Remire-Montjoly, Guyana, April 9, 2022.

The first voters started going to the polls on Saturday, April 9, at home and abroad for the first round of the presidential elections, while the metropolis will have to wait until Sunday to decide between the twelve candidates in a poll that looks austere .

Great unknown of this eleventh presidential election by general election of the Vand Republic: the abstention rate. Many political scientists fear that the record of April 21, 2002 (28.4%), the highest level ever for a first round of a presidential election, can be beaten. In 2017, which was already not a good harvest year, this percentage rose to 22.2% in 2017. The new element is the high percentage of undecided voters, which creates uncertainty “not unimportant” on the ballot, according to political scientist Pascal Perrineau.

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Pending the first results on Sunday at 8 p.m., public gatherings, distribution of leaflets and digital propaganda are prohibited. Polling stations open at 8am on Sunday in mainland France and no interviews, polls or estimates are allowed to be published before the results.

However, two candidates, that of Europe Ecologie-Les Verts, Yannick Jadot, and that of La France insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, went to the march organized on Saturday in Paris for climate and social justice

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Rightsless in Shanghai

To take into account the time difference, some foreign voters will vote on Saturday. Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon got the ball rolling at 8pm (afternoon in Paris), followed by Guyana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy.

The Pacific then takes over, with Polynesia starting to vote when it was 8pm in Paris, Wallis and Futuna and New Caledonia. In Polynesia, turnout was 12.34% in the afternoon, compared to 22.24% at the same time in 2017, according to estimates by the High Commission.

In the Indian Ocean, where the time difference is smaller, Reunion will vote at 6am on Sunday from Paris and Mayotte at 7am. Some French people living abroad are also leading the way, but those living in Shanghai will not be able to vote as China’s largest city is restricted in the name of China’s zero Covid strategy.

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“Archipelling of debates”

“We’ve been through a strange campaign that runs counter to any imagination of the presidential election”explains Frédéric Dabi, director of the IFOP. A campaign “not published” for various reasons : the war in Ukraine that “stunned”a “little interest” contrasting with the previous elections, and the absence of “the usual confrontation of projects” among the contending candidates.

“We have a kind of archipelago of debates with small duels”, in particular between the extreme right-wing polemicist Eric Zemmour (Reconquête!) and, on the right, the candidate Valérie Pécresse (Les Républicains), or between the “rebellious” Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the other candidates of a fragmented left, the ecologist Yannick Jadot, the communist Fabien Roussel, the socialist Anne Hidalgo or the Trotskyists Philippe Poutou and Nathalie Arthaud. Sovereignist Nicolas Dupont-Aignan and Béarnais deputy Jean Lassalle deplored a campaign without debate.

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An “Evoked” Republican Front

To avoid indecision and abstinence, the candidates multiplied in the last week of the campaign: last big meetings, media attention, last excursions.

The outgoing president, who has always topped the polls, came late in the campaign, hindered first by the health crisis and then by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He focused on a single major national gathering, Saturday, April 2 in La Défense, but gave a boost at the end of the week with several interviews, even making a spontaneous visit to a market in Neuilly on Friday, April 8 on the Seine.

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National Rally candidate Marine Le Pen, who made her final trip to Aude on Friday, sparked an uptrend after concerns raised by her far-right rival Eric Zemmour, consolidated in second place and gradually narrowed the gap with Emmanuel Macron. Jean-Luc Mélenchon gradually moved up to third place. But political scientists don’t rule out the possibility that a surprise could upset this trifecta in the polls.

Even before the results of the first round, several candidates projected themselves into the perspective of a Macron-Le Pen duel in the second round, with cracks in the “republican front” against the extreme right. “The Republican front hasn’t been what it used to be for a while. It is hollowed out from above and below”Gilles Finchelstein explained to Agence France-Presse, the director of the Jean Jaurès Foundation. “It remains a spring”but to think that this spring “will suffice is an illusion”

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Le Monde and AFP

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