Even the dire warnings that followed the first round of France’s parliamentary election earlier this month did not convince reluctant voters to head to the polls.
Pollsters estimate the final voter turnout in the second and final round of the parliamentary elections on Sunday will be between 42 and 43 percent ― a record low for legislative elections. French pollster Elabe predicted a turnout of 42 percent, while the Paris-based Ipsos and Sopra Steria pollsters envisioned around 43 percent.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche party won a commanding majority in parliament on Sunday. Pollsters projected En Marche and its allies to win between 355 and 360 of the 577 seats in the lower house, Reuters reported.
Sunday marked the eighth time in less than a year that French voters headed to the polls. The vote followed a little over a month after Macron’s victory in the presidential election and just two weeks after the first round of the parliamentary election.
While participation in presidential elections in France has traditionally been high, the low voter turnout during the legislative elections on Sunday did not come as a surprise. In the second round of the 2012 parliamentary vote, 45 percent of voters stayed away from the polls. Abstention rates in the first round of the 2017 legislative vote had exceeded 50 percent.
The record for the lowest voter turnout ever in the history of the Fifth Republic was set in Sept. 4, 2000, when almost 70 percent of eligible voters did not participate in a national referendum on a proposal to reduce presidential terms from seven years to five. Almost 70 percent of voters did not participate in that vote. The proposal eventually passed.
Opponents of President Macron will undoubtedly hold up the disaffection among voters in this year’s election to argue Macron’s parliament has a democratic deficit.
Hours after polls closed on Sunday, the leader of the far-right National Front Party Marine Le Pen already said that while Macron had won a majority in parliament, his ideas represented a minority of the country.