Front National gained its higher score in local elections at the French regional elections yesterday. Considering only 48.1% of the electors actually voted (according to the French Ministry of Home Affairs), the number of abstaining is much higher than the number of FN sympathisers.
As Celine Bracq, the head of the Odoxa poll institute explained in Le Parisien, Front National sympathisers went voting. Abstaining people come from the right and left wing sympathisers mostly. «There is fatalism from those citizens. Many thought voting was useless», she said. Voices are rising now against abstention, blaming non-voting for the high results of FN. The philosopher Raphael Enthoven denounced of French radio Europe 1 the “laziness” of abstaining people, comparing them to “spoiled children”.
Hadrien, 21 years old, did not vote. Studying abroad, he admits that he forgot to grant proxy to someone and did not make much effort to find a way. However, he considers abstention is much more than this and that the abstention rate is more meaningful than the score of the FN. “The first party of France is the one of those that nobody listens to. […] Nobody listens to them so they do not speak. Abstention is the refusal of expressing oneself, not an oversight or unconsciousness.”
Sarah, student as well, voted yesterday and does blame the ones who did not. For her, not voting means not respecting the duties of any citizen. “In some countries, people would kill to [be able to vote].” About penalizing abstention (as it exists in Belgium for example), she declares being in favour of such measures for people that do not make the efforts to go voting. People that come but do not vote for a candidate must be considered because they express their opinion.
Abstention in France is high at each election, especially locals (French Ministry of Home Affairs) and becomes a major issues as the extreme party gains more and more power. A solution could be penalizing abstention as it was proposed to the Assembly by some deputies lead by the Green Francois de Rugy. Another solution, required by some non-voting such as Hadrien (above) would be a change of the French Republic, including more local and public debates and more participation of the citizens.