While France will elect its new head of state in three days, some Mélenchon voters are struggling to decide to block the far right. Among the rebellious, no judgment and even instruction in a loop: “not a voice for Le Pen”.
The phone cries. At the other end of the line, 29-year-old Romain* cracks. Three days before the first round, this convinced mélenchoniste still can’t choose. Around him, the pressure mounts, the reprimands too. From today, he won’t tell anyone about his hesitation until Sunday.
“I can no longer hear my entourage insinuating that I could be responsible for the accession of the extreme right to power. If that happens and I voted white, I would already blame myself enough”, he confides to us, his voice breaking with rising tears.
Like him, like Irène, Alban and Audrey, many Popular Union voters are lost or disgusted. Those, to appease them, nothing helps. Neither the consultation organized by rebellious France, nor the debate between two rounds between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, nor the deadline for the second round of the presidential election which is approaching.
“Despite the risk of the far right, I have a visceral rejection of Macron which still prevents me from accepting the evidence of voting for him”, despairs Romain.
Audrey*’s clear and warm voice does not hide her bitterness and stupor. This young teacher in a vocational high school in the Val-de-Marne sums up her dilemma as follows: “it’s hard to vote for the destruction of your own work”. For 10 years that she has the right to vote, the fight against the extreme right has always been obvious. Except this time.
“The usually instinctive republican barrage is no longer so. I find it disturbing, despairing and above all very sad. I already hated Macron in the first round of 2017. He turned out worse than I thought in his way to reject the poor and all those who did not have the same way as him to succeed in life. He worried me about drastically reducing for 5 years our means of training young people in the values of citizenship and democracy”, develops the young French teacher.
If I still hesitate today, it’s because I have the impression that voting Macron against Le Pen only postpones the crash”, worries Audrey, who still has between her throat vocational high school reform which removed hours of general education in favor of hours of “adaptation to professional life”.
The debate, the almost thirty-year-old watched attentively. “I expected from Macron a form of respect for little people. And I never felt it,” laments Audrey. She explains: “the approximations he had on vocational high schools, it was not possible for me. And above all, all the subjects not addressed which nevertheless seem to me to be essential to ensure the future of young people: the state social services, the vacancy in certain key posts in education, not a word about the state of the school…”
“The contract of trust is broken”
For Irène, it was the passage of the debate on ecology that upset her. “The environment has almost only been approached from the angle of the energy mix. Nothing on the agricultural model, nothing on the other planetary limits…! And nothing on sobriety, the great absence of this debate! Consume less, restricting is unpopular, we don’t get elected on this, so we crystallize the ecological debate on the wind-nuclear match, it’s practical”, ironically the 26-year-old young woman.
Responsible for development in an association that supports citizen projects, Irène hesitated a lot and was very stressed. She’s part of the community “Paumé.es in my elections”, a platform that wants to enlighten undecided voters. In recent weeks, the site has experienced a peak in traffic with several thousand visits since the first round. Finally, the young woman ended up resolving to vote Macron. A vote “against”, explains the one who no longer has any confidence in the president-candidate and his project.
“On ecology, above all, the contract of trust with En Marche is broken. But Marine Le Pen seems to me even less competent than him. I’m going to block and vote Macron, but it’s heartbreaking. I go there crying, vomiting … Because he refuses to take into account the things that worry me the most in the long term”, she regrets bitterly.
A choice that Alban cannot bring himself to make, precisely because of ecology. “We have a rather short memory of what happened for five years. Macron did absolutely nothing structural to reverse the trend in terms of global warming”, exasperated this consultant, specialist in questions environmental.
“I went back and forth… At first, it was ‘I don’t vote’ then ‘I’m going to force myself to vote Macron’, he says before concluding: “his sufficiency in the debate of ‘yesterday set me back… If I see he’s way ahead in the latest polls, I’m not going to vote on Sunday.’
Get around the difficulty by giving your voice to a stranger?
A path that Romain could follow? A lawyer in an association for the defense of human rights, he no longer counts the lively discussions and the tensions that the hesitations of melenchonists like him cause. In their work and those around them, the vast majority explicitly call for blocking. If abstention is less obvious for him three days before the first round than it was on the evening of the first, he has “a near psychological impossibility to vote Macron”.
“It’s been five years since I saw the disastrous concrete consequences of his policy of maintaining order. The dismantling of the Aubervilliers camp, the tracking of migrants to push them out of Paris, the lacerated tents, the night patrols, the violent police, the discrimination against Muslims in his law against separatism… Macron hunts down all the non-privileged: the poor, the unemployed, migrants, foreigners, Muslims…”, lists the almost thirty years old who admits not understanding how the prefect of police Didier Lallement can still be in office.
To circumvent his near impossibility of voting Macron, Romain hesitates to do as some do and give his vote to a foreigner. His roommate of Austrian nationality would then vote Macron in his place. “And at the same time, that would prevent me from voting white and politically for me, the white vote also makes sense”, he procrastinates again.
“Don’t Be Wrong With Anger”
Among the Insoumis, we welcome these hesitations with kindness and we ask not to judge. The party’s consultation published on Tuesday gave the blank vote and abstention, the first choice of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s supporters for the second round.
Out of 215,292 participants in the vote, 66.61% will not vote for Emmanuel Macron. “We can’t blame them”, explains Alexis Corbière, “I understand that Macron’s arrogance can prevent certain voters from putting a ballot in the ballot box”, conceives the deputy for Seine-Saint-Denis. His department companion, Éric Coquerel, confirms: “If the scores are tighter than last time, it’s Macron’s fault, who did everything to put himself in this position.
The deputy of the first constituency of 93, however, puts the results of this consultation into perspective: “They do not surprise me. They are comparable to those of five years ago. In 2017 at the end, more than half had finally voted for Macron.”
Alexis Corbière advocates appeasement. “We must not be divided on this story of the second round. There is the disappointment of not having gone far and at the same time there is the feeling of pride in the accumulated strength. This strength is intact. We must look to the future,” he replies, his eyes riveted on the legislative elections.
“We have nothing to be ashamed of our fight against the far right”
If the abstainers are fully understood, the instruction remains firm, as repeated five times by the leader on the evening of the first round: “not a voice should go back to Marine Le Pen”. “When you’re popular, when you’re racialized, you don’t really have a choice in fact”, explains Manon Aubry, “Marine is the same policy as Macron, but in addition she is racist and on the far right” . “She’s lying, don’t fall into this trap”, insisted last Friday on LCI Alexis Corbiere. “Macron and Le Pen are not the same thing”, wrote in a post-consultation letter Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who added a layer to it on Tuesday on our antenna: “if you vote for Marine Le Pen, you are in total contradiction with my program.
What about these mélenchonistes then, who vote National Rally? According to the latest Ipsos-Sopra Steria surveyin partnership with Cevipof and the Jean Jaurès Foundation for The world, they are 19% to vote for the candidate. Regarding these voices, the rebellious defend themselves from any lack of clarity, “we are not going to be ashamed of our fight against the far right”, Manon Aubry cuts, “we tell people ‘don’t be mistaken in anger ‘, the situation depends on each one then”. The MEP has made her choice for Sunday.
Until then, “I continue to remind everyone I meet why Marine Le Pen should not be given a voice”, concludes Éric Coquerel. As for the leader, he defends himself from any responsibility: “mine is to keep united a block of 11 million people which must become 12 or 13 million or in any case the first block in the country. I do not see name of which I should say to them ‘do this’, ‘choose that’… I tell them: do not vote for her”, he reaffirmed last Tuesday.
*Names have been changed at the request of the interviewees.