With a budget of 6,000 to 7,000 euros per day for the past week, it is by far the main “political or social issue” advertising campaign in France: on Facebook, a page called “La France at the polls” broadcasts very large volumes of advertisements, financed by La République en Marche (LRM), to encourage voters to vote by proxy if they cannot go to their polling station for the presidential election.
In total, the party spent more than 50,000 euros to show these inserts to several million French people; over the last seven days, LRM has bought four times more Facebook ads than the government to encourage voting, and more particularly the establishment of a power of attorney. The precise criteria used by the presidential party to target Internet users are not public, but the social network’s transparency tool shows that they were overwhelmingly shown to young adults and those over 65.
Civic campaign or political campaign? Although proxy voting is a civic act – the procedures for which have also recently been simplified – it is not completely “neutral”. It even constitutes a “class vote”, according to the title of a very comprehensive field study conducted in 2019, based mainly on the analysis of the results of the 2017 presidential election.
“The overwhelming majority of voters who make proxies are simply voters who go on vacation”, notes Baptiste Coulmont, professor of sociology at the Ecole Normale Supérieure Paris-Saclay, co-author of the study and specialist in proxy voting. The practice therefore mainly concerns the upper classes, who can afford to go on vacation or for the weekend.
In 2017, the second round took place on May 7, during a bridge. “We have been able to observe good correlations between the percentage of executives in a municipality, or the level of poverty, and proxy voting”details Mr. Coulmont.
The Macron electorate votes a lot by proxy
In practice, the power of attorney is also favored by young working graduates and students – who often live far from the family home but still vote “with their parents” – and in tourist areas. It also greatly concerns retirees, most often as agents who receive the power of attorney.
If it seems logical that a campaign to promote the power of attorney should target the French who are likely to use it, it should be noted that the “demography of the power of attorney” is found to largely recover the electorate most favorable to Emmanuel Macron: Ipsos-Sopra Steria surveys have shown that about 35% of upper-class retirees choose the outgoing president for the first round of the presidential election, a record tied with active executives. According to other surveys, the categories of young people who use the power of attorney the most, in particular students and graduates of higher education, are also those who vote the most for Emmanuel Macron.
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