France’s Election and the disaffected Youth Vote
May 1, 2012 Leave a comment
All eyes are on the May 6th second round of votes in France between the top two contenders, incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande. Their previous neck to neck showing means that they are now at the mercy of supporters of Marine Le Pen’s Front Nationale party which garnered roughly 6.5 million votes in the first round, and took the lead amongst the 18 to 24 year olds votes.
One reason for Front Nationale’s popularity amongst the youth was its campaign stance as an “anti-elite” party. France’s escalating youth unemployment crisis (currently at 23%), particularly amongst poorer youth, has created a growing segment of disaffected youth who feel that jobs should first be made available to native French, instead of the rising number of immigrants. Others have felt neglected by the mainstream parties, feeling that their vote is useless.
The second round of campaigns has seen the contenders wooing young people. Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed the creation of a youth bank for young entrepreneurs whereas the challenger Francois Hollande has promised to create 60,000 new jobs.
But why are the youth (numbering roughly 6 million) so disillusioned that they can throw their weight behind extreme parties? Sadly as DJ Taylor comments in the Independent “scratch a neo-fascist and in nine cases out of 10 you find not a racist but someone whom the contemporary world has passed by”.
It’s now upto Hollande and Sarkozy to make these young voters feel included in society because as it stands as Le Pen says the choice remains akin to choosing between the plague and cholera! Today she announced that she will cast a blank ballot. It remains to see whom if any of the options France’s youth voters will choose.