June 16, 2022

A Conversation on the French Legislative Elections


On June 16, the French-American Foundation and the Alliance Program at Columbia University were delighted to invite Hakim El Karoui, Senior Fellow at Institut Montaigne, Head of Brunswick’s Paris office, and 2007 French Young Leader, for a digital event on the French legislative elections between the two voting rounds. The discussion was moderated by Alexis Buisson, US Correspondent of the French daily newspaper La Croix.

Weeks after re-electing President Emmanuel Macron, voters in France returned to the polls to choose their parliamentary representatives. Mr. El Karoui  kicked off the session by presenting the different parties and candidates, as well as the voting trends according to voter demographics, such as their age and level of education. He explained that voting is currently driven by personal interest, the fact that political debates on the decline, and a rise in populism.

Hakim also described the political structural change that is taking place in the country and the reasoning for a particularly high abstention rate this year (only 47.5 percent of voters went to the polls for the first round). He explained that, after a presidential election, it is common for the turnout to be lower. This is accentuated by the fact that voters don’t “buy” candidates anymore, meaning they support whomever they believe to be the “least bad” and see it as less of a choice than a decision they are forced into.

Hakim closed by underlining several significant points, noting that political power has less and less capacity to mobilize French citizens on electoral stakes, and representation from traditional parties has become obsolete. He pointed out that, in addition, there is little visibility on proposals for real structural change in regards to economics and social models for the country. Lastly, Hakim drew comparisons with the American electoral system, highlighting that, in the United States, there are two dominant parties (Democrat and Republican), and that, while the debates remain heavily within in the political parties in the US, they have managed to find their way outside of the parties in France

For more information about our other events, click here.