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Youth vote factoring heavily in French elections

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Adam Allington

A left-wing alliance has won the most seats in the French parliament, thwarting Marine Le Pen’s populist, anti-immigrant National Rally party. However, neither the left nor any other alliance was able to secure the 289 seat majority needed to form a government.

Mabel Berezin

Professor of Sociology at Cornell University

Mabel Berezin, professor of sociology at Cornell University and an expert on international populism, says Le Pen’s trajectory may be stalled, but she will live to fight another day. 

Berezin says:

“Strategic use of the French electoral system made it once again possible to block the far right, but trajectory does matter. Le Pen and her party began the snap election with 89 seats. In the first round, she went up to between 200 and 209 seats. She only needed 80 more seats to get to the majority position. Her drop to 143 was hailed as a loss, but it was still a net party gain of 54 seats.

“The other story is the generational shift in French politics. The National Rally commanded much of the youth vote in the first round, but the left won the day by turning out their own youth vote. The numbers are not in yet on the demographic shift which works both ways. Young voters in France have no living memory of Jean Marie Le Pen or his victory in 2002 or Vichy and all the other reminders of fascism that both sides invoke. What’s clear at the moment is that no one likes the center in France.”  

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