bishops warn against “nationalist and populist” reflexes

“The Catholic vote, more and more standard”

A survey conducted by the IFOP institute for the daily La Croix shows that Catholics are spread across the entire political spectrum. To the point of losing its specificity? Answer with Philippe Portier, political scientist, specialist in the Church.

60% of Catholics went to the polls for the European elections compared to 51.5% of the population as a whole. They are even 78% among regular practitioners. How can we explain this pronounced civic-mindedness?

This is a constant: Catholics vote more than French people of other religions or those who declare themselves “no religion”. They are, more than others, involved in the life of the city, through involvement in parties, associations or unions. Several factors explain this high participation rate. On the one hand, the magisterium's speech continued to call for a vote and to promote this act as a “duty”. We can cite the expression of Pius XI in his encyclical Quadragesimo anno of 1931: “Politics is the highest form of charity. » Included in this injunction from the magisterium is the conviction that charity cannot be practiced solely from the individual point of view. This is bound to take on a collective dimension. And then, the Church has long specified that it is necessary to vote “for the good candidates”, that is to say those who defend the social doctrine of the Church. Furthermore, from a sociological point of view, let us remember that Catholics are older and often belong to higher social categories, which are factors favoring participation.

Conversely, among French Muslims, participation is only 41%. It's very weak…

Yes, and this phenomenon can be explained in reverse to the sociological explanations that I have just given for Catholics. Very often, these French people are in a situation of marginalization due to their reduced social and professional integration. They are also younger than the average French person. These two elements favor their abstention, which is verified in the Ifop study.

Catholics, like the French as a whole, largely voted for the RN list. Has the dam against the extreme right really broken in this category of the population?

Yes. Since the mid-2010s, there has been an increasingly clear tendency among Catholics to vote RN. In this year's European elections, 37% of them voted for the list led by Jordan Bardella, or 5.5 points more than the general population. This attraction of the faithful for the extreme right did not exist in the 1980s and 1990s. Notable fact: only 18% of regular practitioners voted for the RN. For what? They are Catholics inserted into the fabric of the Church, more exposed than others to the magisterial word. We often observe this point in the sociology of Catholicism: the fact of being practicing is an indicator of better integration and makes one more resistant to the temptation of the RN.

Generally speaking, the Catholic vote isstandardize, it increasingly resembles the vote of the French as a whole. On the determining issues of the vote too, the faithful stand out less and less.

This is partly true. The priority issues during the European campaign are the same among Catholics as among others, but they do not appear in the same order. For them, the first concern is the fight against terrorism, followed by the fight against delinquency, then the fight against illegal immigration and health. Those without religion are more sensitive to questions of purchasing power and education. As for Muslims, they mainly voted based on three issues: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the fight against racism and discrimination and the fight against delinquency. On this last point, we can suggest the hypothesis that it is an issue of immediate experience, which they are confronted with in their living spaces.

What if we had to take away just one lesson from this survey?

The Catholic vote is becoming standardized. Note the hollowing out of the Macronian camp. Only 16% of Catholics voted for Valérie Hayer's list and 10% even among regular practitioners. On the other hand, these regular practitioners are twice as likely to vote for the LR list. Then a “Catholic culturalism” asserts itself around Reconquest! and the RN. The latter, it must be remembered – even if Jordan Bardella did not highlight it during the campaign – advocates the inclusion of Christian roots in the Constitution. Finally, I note the persistence of a phenomenon which has mainly developed since the 1970s: a left-wing vote which totals 21% – when we combine the lists – with a peak at 28% among regular practitioners.

The Ifop survey for the newspaper La Croix was conducted among a sample of 2,871 people over 18 years old representative of the French population and carried out online on June 9, 2024.

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