… the departmental/region elections of December 2015 with it’s rise of the Front National in the first round and the media-demise of the same party in the second round, whereas the Front National gained 800.000 votes in the second round, and the Socialist Front gained just over 200.000 votes the second time.
What we see is a an election system that strives for a contest between two major parties, neglecting all other shades and colours of opinion. It is used for the presidential elections, as well as for de departmental ones. It dates back to what some call the ‘legal coup-d’état’ of the Fifth Republic by general De Gaulle in 1958. This changed a more full parliamentary system with a system with more central power executed by the president. It was triggered by the crisis France found itself in with the Algerian War and internal political strive, at the edge what some called ‘a civil war’. The aim of the Fifth Republic was ‘majority rule’, throwing out all ideas of more party coalitions, of proportional representation, of government by any form of consensus.
I will not explain here the vicissitudes of the so called binomial electoral system, it suffices to know that it has been implemented recently by countries trying to get out of a history of dictatorship like Chile and Poland. A system that may be of use during an initial period, but which – over longer time – hampers the very thing it claims to implement: parliamentary democracy.
This morning I was driven to make this info-graphic as I could not make good sense of all the comments, statistics and incomplete electoral maps I was presented with (both in French and English language newspapers).
On my mind was the first round of these elections – that also served as a test of the popularity or unpopularity of the sitting government of the ‘socialists party’ lead by François Hollande. As was to be expected the first round saw a great gain of the non-governing opposition under Marie Le Pen, her niece and some even more far right parties associated.
Next was a week of state propaganda against the Front Nationale… even while this party (if we like it or not) became in the first round the third political force in the country, nearing the socialist bloc in number of individual votes. Le Pen was not even invited to sit at the desk of the national/state television news after her success (imagine the reversed situation…). Everything was mobilised during one week to prepare for the second round with plenty of (state) media-space for the anti Le Pen camp and see, the Front Nationale did not loose votes, they gained 800.000 or so. Now the bad surprise of this semi-dictatorial system of binomial elections made it that the Front National (as a third political force in France) did not come back in any of the combined-departments/regions. The ‘bi’ polar system eliminates major players on the field.
What to think about such a system? What about the electoral force… how they can have any direct influence in such an abominable system?
It suffices to check out who did give their mandate for this new political departmental region constellation. It appears that roughly 50% of the electorate did NOT vote and half a million in the first round and three quarter of a million in the second round decided to give a blank vote.
So is all this ‘representational government’? It is not. Even when one dislikes or abhores the Front Nationale, one should keep up minimal standards of democratic respect for those playing in the election games.
Now the rules of the election games’ themselves should cone up for scrutiny. As it is now with the binomial system (*) I give it the name:
ROULETTE DEMOCRACY — rien ne va plus.
statistical date source: Élections régionales françaises de 2015
(*) A useful introduction to the impact of ‘two rounds’ voting and the ‘binomial election system’ is on the site of ACE-electoral knowledge network: http://aceproject.org/ace-en/topics/es/onePage