Small lists, big ambitions

Small lists, big ambitions

They have never been so numerous: no less than 38 lists aspire, on the occasion of June 9, to gain visibility if not influence.

On the light stone square of the town hall of Belleville-sur-Loire (Cher), a pleasant town of 1,200 inhabitants, the municipal employee grumbles as she takes out the gray metal billboards which line up right in front of the church: “What a job!” Thirty-eight panels to install…” Thirty-eight is the number of lists registered with the Ministry of the Interior for the European elections which will take place in France on June 9. Four more than in 2019!

The organization of the vote depends on each Member State. In France, you must be at least 18 years old the day before the voting date, enjoy your civil rights, be of French nationality or that of a member state of the European Union (EU) and have resided in France for at least least six months to apply. Each list must bring together 81 names and be submitted no later than May 17. The order on display locations is drawn randomly.

It would be tempting to see this record number as a sign of renewal. But alongside the main groups which compete from left to right, do the “small” ones really diversify the citizen offering? Not sure, as they cover the same themes. Three lists recommend a “Frexit”, that is to say an exit of France from the EU; to the left of the PCF and the Insoumis, five lists claim to be anti-capitalism and communism; alongside the Greens, six place themselves under the ecological banner; four, in the wake of the Yellow Vests, denounce with populist rhetoric the supposed collusion of the elites. Others are part of European issues such as the traditional list in favor of Esperanto (0.08% of votes in 2019), that of the Pirate Party (born in Sweden) or animal rights (2.16% in 2019). Finally, the Union of French Muslim Democrats presents itself under the Free Palestine label and advocates a broad boycott of Israel.

Too expensive newsletters

Applying for a job is therefore quite simple in our country, which partly explains the profusion of offers. Even if the Ministry of the Interior publishes a guide for candidates of… 80 pages. There we find a reminder of the procedures, the conditions of electoral propaganda, the means of contesting the results, etc. But also advice for writing professions of faith (or circulars): it is therefore recommended to “use simple words in common use”, to “make short sentences”, to “associate visuals with the text (images, diagrams, etc.) relevant and meaningful”, to “clarify and air out the layout”. Among the curiosities, we learn that the only ones who cannot compete because of their position are the Defender of Rights and his deputy, as well as the General Controller of places of deprivation and liberty. For what ? Mystery !

All the parties in the running want to gain visibility, but this will not necessarily translate into electoral gains. Because the main expense is the ballots. Printed in tens of millions, they represent a prohibitive cost, which explains why, in many polling stations, if all the posters are present outside, inside, only the “big” parties were able to print the bulletin. It is necessary to obtain 3% of the votes cast for reimbursement by the State of printing and display costs and campaign expenses. In 2019, of the 28 lists which had not reached the 5% threshold required in France to obtain elected representatives, only two had been able to be reimbursed, one led by Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (3.51%), the the other by Benoît Hamon (3.27%).

19.8% of the votes. This is the weight, in 2019, of the 28 lists which did not obtain elected representatives.

Fewer blank votes

That year, the movements excluded from the distribution of seats nevertheless won 19.8% of the votes. So, which “big” ones do the “small” ones bite on? “It is not because the number of lists is high that abstention will decrease,” warns Tristan Haute, lecturer in political science at the University of Lille. But this abundance reduces the number of blank votes and weakens the parties whose supporters say they are less certain of their voting intentions – this year the Greens and the presidential party – and who could be tempted by the other environmentalist lists. »

Within the European Union, France is the country with the most electoral lists, tied with Spain and its numerous regionalist, autonomist and independence groups. But our neighbors also have their unexpected candidates, such as, in Germany, those of the “Party for Conventional Medical Research on Rejuvenation”. The only disappointment was that we hoped for a resurrection, for this 2024 vintage, of the “Polish Party of Friends of Beer”, a short-lived movement which had succeeded in sending deputies to the national Parliament in the 1990s. But no. Too afraid of a hangover the day after the election?

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