European Elections Review

Insights Insights

As the Yellow Vest movement is slowly fading away, “old-school” politics is coming back. Intense negotiations between political figures, threats of departure, backstabbing and criticisms among allies over the last weeks. The idea of a Yellow Vest list for the elections has disappeared alongside the support from the population toward the movement. As it was credited with more than 10% at the climax of the social movement, it has now been reduced at a rate of knots.

Traditional parties such as Les Républicains (LR - Conservative party) and Parti Socialiste (PS - Socialist Party) have seen a little bright spell in their intention votes, which seems to validate their strategy in the setting up of their lists. 

Recent opinion polls show continuity as LaREM is still ahead from the far-right party RN (EFDD group) in the run-off to European elections, with 23,5% against 21% of intention votes respectively. Following the two favourites, LR (EPP group) is the only other party to approach 10% of intention votes. All the parties representing the left electorate (Greens, France Insoumise, Socialist Party, Communist Party, and other on the Far-Left) are below this threshold due to the fragmentation of lists. This could evolve in the coming weeks as some major figures are calling for unity in order to counter the right and far-right hegemony.

Most of the lists have been settled but the dynamic of the vote remains blurry

Emmanuel Macron had unofficially started campaigning by being ubiquitous during the National Debate broadcasted for hours every day on live TV. He launched the official campaign by sending a letter to several media outlets across Europe to draw up his political project for the union. At the end of march, LaREM’s list was finally published with Nathalie Loiseau, former Minister in charge of European Affairs, as headliner. In details, the composition of the list reflects Emmanuel Macron’s “at the same time” strategy with former members of the Green Party (centre-left), members of centre-right parties (Modem, Agir, former Conservatives) and candidates coming from the civil society (journalist, farmers, sailor…). Ministers and members of LaREM have also been resurrecting the split between “Populists” and “Progressists” which seems to be once again the core strategy of the President.

To regain their aura, the two historic major parties (Socialist Party PS and Conservative party LR) have bet on young blood to represent them as head of list during the campaign:

o Raphael Glucksman (philosopher wo created a “progressist” movement called Place Publique) will be the spearhead of the social-democrat front. The two political forces have merged for this campaign, Raphael Glucksman taking the lead, and are trying to gather the progressists forces of the left to build a coalition against Emmanuel Macron and Jean-Luc Mélenchon (FI)’s lists. This could be a dangerous strategy for the Socialists, being already in difficulty they could completely disappear within Place Publique after this campaign.

o After presenting a candidate close from the catholic activists, LR have put a little water in their wine to balance accusation of trying to seduce RN’s electors. They added candidates representing other sensitivities within the party. It seems that this strategy is paying off as, according to the latest polls, the intention votes in their favour has soared since the announcement of the list.       

After announcing their head of list - Jordan Bardella, an unknown darling of Marine Le Pen - Rassemblement National (RN) has launched the campaign and keeps on attacking Emmanuel Macron, its favourite enemy.   

Greens party Europe Ecologie Les Verts (EELV), have decided to present their own list and are declining any alliance with other left parties. Yannick Jadot (Head of list) is betting on the strategy that elected Emmanuel Macron, which is to present his party as neither on the right nor on the left. As ecological issues are now on the top priorities of the population, he is trying to gather through a non-partisan posture as many electors as possible, even seducing the disappointed of Emmanuel Macron’s initial headline, “Make our Planet Great Again”.

After betting on the radicalization of the Yellow Vest movement to gain in popularity and influence, La France Insoumise (LFI)is now seeing its strategy backfiring. Indeed, a coalition has been formed on the left to counter LFI’s dominance. They also suffer from a plummeting in their intention votes, showing their incapacity in transforming the social movement into an electoral result.