A near-continent holds its collective breath. Actually, something may be happening in France.

Euro-Excitement

Finally. The waiting’s almost done. Over 4 days, starting with the Netherlands and UK last Thursday, and with 21 countries (including France) voting today, 427 million excited voters in 28 EU member-countries have (or have not) been voting for their Euro-Parliament representatives. There’s Euro-Excitement from Vienna to St Germain en Laye

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Mariahilferstrasse, Vienna

 

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St Germain en Laye

From 11pm tonight [close of polls in Italy, the country that carries on voting latest] actual results will start to be known. However, national estimates of Euro-MPs will be known (says the Euro-Parliament) from 6pm onwards when 7 countries (including Germany) give their estimates. In France, medium-sized and large towns vote until 8pm so the pollsters will only call their forecasts then. 

Something’s happening out there

Is that a genuine Euro-Frisson in the air?

France was supposed to be in a mood of utter disinterest about these Euro-Elections. The abstention level was possibly going to exceed 2014’s 42% abstention. It was said that 70% of those aged between 18-34 would abstain.

But through the day, it’s become clear that people have been voting in far higher numbers than predicted.

The Interior Ministry announced at midday a level of participation of 19.3%. Already a distinct increase on the previous election’s 15.7%. Was it a worrying sign for the President that in France’s North Region (fertile far-right territory) the midday turnout of 18% was up 4 points from 2014’s 14%. Did that confirm the findings of all the final Euro-Election polls showing ultra-right Le Pen’s National Rally with a distinct lead over the President’s En Marche party?

In our small (conservative) town in Paris’s western suburbs, 21% had voted at midday. As many as 28% had voted in our area. Locally, is that The Revenge of the Conservative Républicains or Macron ‘supporters’ from all parties and none fighting off the forecast defeat by Le Pen?

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We then learned at 5pm that 43% had voted over the whole of France – that’s 8 percentage points higher than at 5pm last time.

In fact, 43% was supposed to be the entire percentage of those who’d vote. So with the traditionally late-voting Parisians, and those living in other major towns, could turnout finally exceed a nearly respectable (and record for the Euro-Elections since 1994*) 50%? In fact, pollster Elabe now estimates a 52% turnout … which would mean 4 million more voters than 2014. So the same question as before:

  • have people been persuaded to support the President’s appeal and vote for his ‘vision of Europe’ against Le Pen’s nationalism, or
  • a straight rejection of the ultra-right, or
  • have the ultra-right forces come out?

We await 8pm.

Who says the Germans don’t have a sense of humour

There was a certain sense of being overwhelmed with choice when we learned there would be 34 party lists in France from which to choose. But they do things more impressively in Germany. Voters there had 41 lists to sort through.

And the Germans have Die Partei, founded by a journalist for a satirical newspaper, Titanic. Germany has no minimum threshold, thus Die Partei won a Euro-MP in the last Parliament through getting 0.6% of the Euro-Vote.

Their programme includes re-building the Berlin Wall, re-establishing East Germany and confiscating the driving licenses of climate change deniers. Die Partei thought it a bit of a wheeze this time to find candidates with interesting names. In this way, they said, they might be able to steal some votes from confused ultra-right Alternativ fur Deutschland voters. So Die Partei‘s Euro list included candidates called Herr Speer, Bormann, Eichmann, Hess and Göbbels … plus there’s Herr Krieg (war) and Bombe (bomb). Fun.

Anguishing in public

My previous post vented over my precious vote.

In the end, I decided this wasn’t the moment to change the habit of a lifetime. Voting for a group with 5% national support does, admittedly, seem rather like supporting a slightly crazed sect. Even so, will I be the one to get those Socialists over the magic 5% threshold?

*The statement about a possible ‘record’ turnout was corrected on 28 May – exceeding 50% was only the highest since 1994.

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