European elections.  These young people affected by “Bardellamania”

European elections. These young people affected by “Bardellamania”

In debate on France 2 on May 23 against the Prime Minister, Jordan Bardella, head of the RN list for the June 9 election, is experiencing unprecedented success among young people. For what reasons ?

Usually, on May 7, Armistice Eve, a public holiday, Loïc, Théo and Yvan, 22 years old each, take the opportunity to party. This year, these students from an engineering school in Metz (Moselle) preferred to go to Saint-Avold, 45 kilometers away. Their base: the meeting of Jordan Bardella, 28 years old, leader of the National Rally (RN) list in the European elections, well ahead in voting intentions. They are part of the 3,000 people, according to the organizers, who gathered in the municipal village hall of this Lorraine town of 15,000 inhabitants. From outside, finishing their beer, they hear the crowd shouting in chorus: “Jor-dan! Jor-dan! » “We reserved our places as soon as we saw the announcement on social networks,” explain the three friends. They are not the only young people to have rushed. In front of the stage crisscrossed by security barriers, many youthful faces sneak up to take a front row seat. Arriving a little late, two high school students dive, excited, into the assembly. “We wanted to see it in real life!” » Their parents dropped them off in the car before leaving immediately.

This “Bardellamania” demonstrates an unprecedented attraction of this age group for the RN. In 2022, in the first round of the presidential election, Marine Le Pen received less than 25% of the votes of 18-34 year olds. Jean-Marie Le Pen, in 2007, 10%. Jordan Bardella reaches up to 43% voting intention among 18-24 year olds (Ifop-Fiducial for Le Figaro LCI Sud Radio, May 17, 2024). Figures to be put into perspective due to high abstention and electoral volatility among young people, but which illustrate the trivialization of the flame party. “He manages to break away from the Le Pen image, he embodies renewal,” confides Loïc.

The TikTok strategy

This Bardella dynamic relies on skillful communication. “Mr. selfie,” Justice Minister Éric Dupont-Moretti often quips. The RN boss' media momentum is paying off thanks to his presence on TikTok, the flagship social network for teenagers and young adults, where he has more than a million subscribers. “I occupy the land offered to me by democracy,” says Jordan Bardella at Pilgrim , a few hours before going on stage in Saint-Avold. In the middle of the campaign, his adversaries rush into the breach, denouncing an empty shell with poor control of the files. “Read the texts you vote for (to the European Parliament, Editor's note) », said his left-wing competitor Raphaël Glucksmann on BFM TV on May 5. The RN MEP is also accused of abandoning Europe, precisely, and of making the vote a national question. He admits: “I came to Lorraine to talk to you about France, we don’t talk about it enough during this campaign,” he said in Saint-Avold. Loïc, a future engineer, never appreciated Marine Le Pen and feels concerned when Bardella talks about industry in this disaster area. He wants to believe it: the RN candidate attracts people for his ideas. “He’s not just a fashion phenomenon. »

26% of 18-24 years intend to vote for the RN list according to a recent survey.

Effective rhetoric

A few hours earlier, Jordan Bardella had mingled with employees in orange bibs at the Saint-Avold coal power plant. While some greeted him with frowning eyebrows and crossed arms, others did not mask their enthusiasm. “I like him, he gets in touch with people,” comments Paul Meyer, 23, with his hands in the pockets of his overalls.

Back at the podium, Marine Le Pen's henchman shoots his arrows against “Macronie”. Straight back, implacable speech often punctuated by “My friends!” », he strings together the chiseled sentences. Corinne, 50, attends her first political meeting. “My 20-year-old elder told me about him, she’s a fan! », explains this divorced mother, tired of a career of odd jobs paid at minimum wage. As her older daughter was unable to free herself, the fifty-year-old took her younger daughter to the meeting. The 15-year-old high school student displays a big smile, revealing her metal rings. When the candidate broaches the subject of immigration, Corinne nods: “We already have too many poor people in France to welcome others. » At the end of the gathering, the public moves closer to the stage, even if it means elbowing and stepping on each other's toes… The free-for-all lasts an hour. Louis, 17, dripping with sweat under his costume: “That’s it, I have my photo! “.

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