‘Left-wing country that votes for the right’ – why French voters are moving right

The French electorate is moving further to the right, according to a new poll of 10,000 voters, although trust in president Emmanuel Macron has increased slightly over the last year.

'Left-wing country that votes for the right' - why French voters are moving right
French voters will go to the polls in April. Photo: Sameer Al Doumy/AFP

From representative sample of more than 10,000 people inscribed on the French electoral list polled between December 23rd 2021 to January 10th 2022, 32 percent identified as right-wing – an increase of 8 percent since 2016, according to a study by OpinonWay published earlier this week. 

Since the election of French President Emmanuel Macron in 2017, the percentage of people identifying as belonging to the far right has crept up from 7 percent to 11 percent. 

The graph from a recent study on political attitudes in France shows that more and more people identify as being on the right. Centrist and left wing political identification has remained largely stable. Droite means right-wing and gauche means left-wing.  Source: OpinionWay/CEVIPOF
The poll found that 39 percent of French people were satisfied with their lives (a four percent increase from last year) while 20 percent were dissatisfied (a one percent decrease).

35 percent of those surveyed said they had confidence in the government – the same proportion as last year – while 38 percent said that they trusted the President – a 2 percent increase on last year. 

The vast majority of those polled, 79 percent, agreed with the statement that “politicians talk too much but don’t act enough” – a five percent increase on last year.

Overwhelming majorities believe that the economy benefits bosses to the detriment of workers, that the government should take from the rich and give to the poor, that there are too many immigrants in France and that unemployed people can find a job if they look for one. 61 percent of those polled said that Islam represented a threat to the country. A majority said that more had to be done to advance the place of women in society. 

This confusing mix of results was summarised neatly by sociologist, Roger Sue, writing in Le Monde: “France is a left wing country that votes for the right.” 

“The electorate has become more volatile,” he continued. “The top down nature of out institutions has failed to produce republican integration.”

More than a quarter of those polled said it would be a good idea if the army governed France, 39 percent were in favour of an unelected strongman and 52 percent were in favour of government led by experts rather than elected officials. 

Just under half of voters believe the government has managed the Covid pandemic well. 

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Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France’s disabilities minister

France's disabilities minister will not face a new inquiry "as things stand" over a rape allegation that surfaced just after his nomination by President Emmanuel Macron last week, prosecutors have said, citing the anonymity of the alleged victim.

Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France's disabilities minister

Damien Abad has faced growing pressure to resign after the news website Mediapart reported the assault claims by two women dating from over a decade ago, which he has denied.

One of the women, identified only by her first name, Margaux, filed a rape complaint in 2017 that was later dismissed by prosecutors.

The other woman, known only as Chloe, told Mediapart that in 2010 she had blacked out after accepting a glass of champagne from Abad at a bar in Paris, and woke up in her underwear in pain with him in a hotel room. She believes she may have been drugged.

She did not file an official complaint, but the Paris prosecutors’ office said it was looking into the case after being informed by the Observatory of Sexist and Sexual Violence in Politics, a group formed by members of France’s MeToo movement.

“As things stand, the Paris prosecutors’ office is not following up on the letter” from the observatory, it said, citing “the inability to identify the victim of the alleged acts and therefore the impossibility of proceeding to a hearing.”

In cases of sexual assault against adults, Paris prosecutors can open an inquiry only if an official complaint is made, meaning the victim must give their identity.

Abad has rejected the calls to resign in order to ensure the new government’s “exemplarity,” saying that he is innocent and that his own condition of arthrogryposis, which limits the movement of his joints, means sexual relations can occur only with the help of a partner.

The appointment of Abad as minister for solidarities and people with disabilities in a reshuffle last Friday was seen as a major coup for Macron, as the 42-year-old had defected from the right-wing opposition.

The new prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, said she was unaware of the allegations before Abad’s nomination, but insisted that “If there is new information, if a new complaint is filed, we will draw all the consequences.”

The claims could loom large over parliamentary elections next month, when Macron is hoping to secure a solid majority for his reformist agenda. Abad will be standing for re-election in the Ain department north of Lyon.