Gavin Mortimer Gavin Mortimer

Why so many millennials are backing Marine Le Pen

Many years ago I married into a family of the French working-class. They came from Aveyron, La France Profonde, and most were dyed-in-the-wool socialists. But at a barbecue in the summer of 2002 one, Fabien, admitted that he had cast his ballot for Jean-Marie Le Pen in the recent election. A quarrel ensued but the young man stood his ground. His car had been broken into three times in a matter of months and the police in Marseille had shown no interest. Voting for Le Pen was Fabien’s protest at the police indifference to petty crime.

Twenty years later and it is no longer unusual to discover young people who vote for Le Pen’s daughter, Marine. A poll this month revealed that 29 per cent of 25 to 34 year-olds intend to vote for her party, an increase of 6 per cent on those who backed her at the 2017 election. According to the poll, only 20 per cent of this demographic will vote for Emmanuel Macron, a drop of 9 per cent from the election four years ago. In contrast, the 18-24 age group are more supportive of Macron (29 per cent) and less enamoured of Marine Le Pen (20 per cent).

There are several reasons to explain this discrepancy. This younger generation are more ‘woke’ than their elders, and identity politics has taken root in French universities only recently. They have also been less exposed to Islamic terrorism than the 25 to 34 age group, who saw their friends slaughtered in 2015 and 2016. They were on the frontline of the ‘war’ with Islamic extremism, and they are also disillusioned economically with a president who came to power promising much but who has delivered little in the last four years.

Macron’s opponents accuse him of presiding over a country that is slipping into anarchy

According to the polling company that conducted the recent survey, only one in five young people voted in the two rounds of the 2017 presidential election, but one in two declare that they will have their say next year.

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