dark blue tide? Dive into the presidential election of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais mining region

Despite his travels between the towers of Lens, Liévin and Carvin, Emmanuel Macron was unable to convince the inhabitants of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais mining region. During the second round of the presidential election, voters in the region largely voted for the National Rally candidate. Thus, Marine Le Pen ranks first in almost all cities of this popular region undergoing social, economic and political changes. Are these results a sign of a complete shift from this former stronghold of the left in favor of the far right? Detailed electoral analysis allows us to qualify this idea.

Dark blue dynamic highlighted during this second round

We can expect that, Marine Le Pen, who has already done very well in 2017, confirms and finishes on top in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais mining basin with an average of 60% during this second round by advancing up to 5% compared to 2017. She has achieved The highest scores are in two border municipalities in this region, Hénin-Beaumont (67%) and recently acquired by Bruay-la-Buissière (69%).

We can also observe very good results in left-wing cities, with up to 77% in Marles-le-Min or even 57% in Lens, a socialist stronghold. These results are often higher compared to 2017. It increased by 130,000 votes in Nord-Pas-de-Calais. In Lens, for example, Marine Le Pen received 7,316 votes in the second round of 2017 versus 7,631 this year. Same story for Hénin-Beaumont, winning 875 votes compared to 2017.

These various breakthroughs have been achieved at the expense of the outgoing president, who is partly declining in this area compared to the second round of 2017. At Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Emmanuel Macron lost 65,000 votes. And this fall is stronger in the cities located in the heart of the mining basin. In Lens, he lost 796 votes and took 42% of the vote against 46% in 2017. Even in Valenciennes, one of the few right-wing town halls in the mining basin. – And One of the few who put Emmanuel Macron at the fore -, He lost 708 votes, down from 63% in 2017 to 58% today.

But this analysis cannot be complete without paying special attention to abstentions Like voting for Marine Le Pen It is always higher in the mining basin than in the rest of France. Even if it’s less exciting than one might expect, it’s on average at 28% in the mining area (+3% compared to the national average) and it reaches peaks in certain cities, like Lens at 37% (+2.5% compared to 2017). ). Compared to this abstention, “only” one out of three voted for Marine Le Pen during this second round in the mining pool.

The first round to bring out three political poles

If Emmanuel Macron loses votes in the second round, the results of the first round show another fact. In Pas-de-Calais, he reclaimed second place, which Jean-Luc Melenchon held in 2017, winning 40,000 votes between 2017 and 2022, increasing it from 18 to 24%. Even clearer progress was made in the North, where it made a 6% gain between 2017 and 2022, to end up at 26%. This trend can also be seen in the mining area, where he earned four points in Lens, two in Hénin-Beaumont, and as many as six points in Béthune.

The results that can be understood in light of the fall of traditional parties such as the Republic and the Socialist Party. If PS, unlike LR, is very strong in this region, both parties have observed a continuous decrease in their scores: Anne Hidalgo and Valérie Pécresse do not exceed approximately 2% in the mining basin. Because of his political position among the candidates, the outgoing president may be the biggest beneficiary of this fall.

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Ecologist Yannick Gadot also underperformed strongly in the mining basin, rarely exceeding 2.5%, while garnering 4.7% of the vote nationally. As for the communist Fabien Roussel, who was elected as a deputy in this mining region in 2017, he fared better there than in the rest of France, regularly exceeding the 4% rate. It peaked at over 12% in the opium communist stronghold.

On the left, Jean-Luc Melenchon, as at the national level, finds himself largely in the lead. But he didn’t convince in the mining pool as much as he was able to do in Lille, for example, with 40.5% of the vote. In this area still strongly marked by the left, the rebels split with the French Communist Party (PCF) and rarely won more than 20% of the vote (22% in Lens and Carvin).

Fabien Roussel at a meeting in Afyon, February 24, 2022. Photo: Christophe Simon/AFP

It was Marine Le Pen who took the lead from this first lap of the mining pool. They often exceed 40% with very high peaks in their strongholds, 51% in Hénin-Beaumont and 52% in Bruay-la-Buissière. But it also did very well in small towns such as Auchille with 50% of the vote or Noeux-Les-Mines with 48%. In this area of ​​the mining basin, she was able to take advantage of the low score of her far right competitor, Eric Zemmour, who scored lower there than in the rest of France. He has gone up a little over 5%, got the best scores in very few cities and put Emmanuel Macron at the top of the first round, like Druven-le-Marie with 8.5% or Vaudrecourt at 8%.

trend can be reversed?

So no big surprises at the mining pool. The results of this presidential election are part of a deep and long-term dynamic affecting the entire region: the increasingly powerful infiltrations of the National Party, the loss of the Socialist Party’s momentum and the increase – softer than expected – abstentions. The elements illustrating these trends are manifold and implemented on several levels.

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The mining basin sociology aligns fairly well with a portion of Le Pen’s constituency. Workers, employees and people with low levels of certification and salaries are overrepresented and we know that Marine Le Pen scores well among these segments of the population. These results are thus explained by more social proximity – between the features of the mining area’s population and a portion of the RN electorate – than the supposed ideological proximity in the mining area than elsewhere. This popular voter also makes it possible to understand the low scores of Eric Zemmour, who succeeded best in the more affluent and historically right-wing regions.

The same observation is made for the environmental candidate, whose electoral base is more concentrated in major cities than in popular areas such as a mining basin. It is even more surprising for France’s candidate insoumise (LFI), who seems to be more convinced in popular areas near major cities (52.5% in Roubaix) than in the mining basin. Finally, this popular sociology makes it possible to better understand abstinence, which we know most powerfully affects the most dangerous people.

Another important element to consider in understanding these findings is the national character of the campaign. At the local level, the mining pool is still led by the left – the National Front sometimes has difficulty introducing candidates from the territory. Presidential elections are similar to another context in which national issues take precedence over local roots. Several voters I met during my post made it clear that they voted left in the mayoral election in Lens – outgoing PS mayor, Sylvain Robert, was re-elected in the first round – but for Marine Le Pen in the presidential election.

Jean-Luc Melenchon speaks at the first congress of the New People’s Ecological and Social Union (Nupes). Photo: Julian de Rosa/AFP

In the context of the split on the left, the National Rally was able to embody a political display to channel the diverse anger of the population of the mining area, in turn owing to the “elites” and “luxury”. But the stakes may be very different in the upcoming legislative elections. If many of the district’s constituencies were reclaimed in 2017, it was in the context of the left split, with often separate candidates for the LFI, PS and PCF. The union that this time appears to be forming for the upcoming elections under the New People’s Ecological and Social Union (NUPES), could reverse the trend: a single candidate could benefit from the powerful influence of the left at the local level.

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