“Like choosing between the plague and cholera.” Mélenchon’s young fans are faced with the runoff dilemma – POLITICO

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PARIS – Despite not qualifying for the second round of the French presidential election, Jean-Luc Mélenchon has something to be proud of: he won the hearts of young French voters who now face a difficult choice.

French voters under 30 favored the left wing Mélenchon is preferable to all his rivals, multiple polls have shown, and they are now reviewing all options ahead of the April 24 runoff between French President Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

During his closing speech last Sunday, Mélenchon gave no endorsement but urged his supporters “not to give a single vote to Madame Le Pen”. It started earlier this week an online consultation He asked his supporters to choose between three options: vote for Macron, cast a blank vote, or stay home. The results will be published on Saturday.

Many of his young supporters are now struggling to decide which option to click, a preview of the choice they will have to make next week.

“It’s like choosing between the plague and cholera,” said Maha, a 19-year-old social sciences student who cast her first ballot for Mélenchon but reluctantly voted for Macron on the second ballot.

The 70 year old Mélenchon was better than Macron at targeting young voters, for example with videos on TikTok and Instagram, Maha explained as she exited the so-called Tolbiac Tower, one of the less chic buildings of Paris University in the multicultural 13th arrondissement.

Mélenchon’s voters are easy to find among Tolbiac – a stronghold of far-left student movements since the 1970s – and they all face the same dilemma.

Some of them just find it too difficult to vote for Macron. You will either cast a blank ballot or stay at home. “I don’t want to make a decision that goes against my beliefs in my very first election,” said 19-year-old Enzo, who voted for Mélenchon for his environmental proposals. “I will abstain. I refuse to vote for the extreme right or Macron. This is the only way I can make my dissatisfaction heard.”

That spirit of defiance was evident Thursday as left-wing students opposed both Macron and Le Pen proven the university sites Sorbonne and Sciences Po Paris

Of all age groups, abstention is highest among French youth – more than 40 percent in the first ballot. But Mélenchon has proven to be the most successful of all candidates when it comes to persuading young people to vote. Polls show that 36 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 24 voted for Mélenchon and that supporters of the France Unbowed movement are harder to find among older voters, who largely preferred Macron over him.

startup nation? no thanks

In his third power struggle, Mélenchon secured Votes from both low-income families and educated voters – although Le Pen and Macron still outperform him in every category.

In the department of Seine-Saint-Denis, a working class and multicultural outskirts north of Paris, Mélenchon received nearly 50 percent of the vote. In Saint-Denis – the most famous part of the suburb – he won more than 60 percent of the vote.

“It’s a big signal. They recognized us as defenders of the working class,” said Landry Ngang, a 22-year-old France Unbowed activist from Saint-Denis.

Despite being the youngest candidate and having distanced himself from traditional parties, Macron has so far failed to garner support from young voters, particularly in working-class neighborhoods.

“Emmanuel Macron’s project dates back to the 20th century. Neoliberalism doesn’t appeal to young people,” Ngang said. “We explained our project on emancipation, the environment and the redistribution of wealth to them. Young people are interested in these issues and not in becoming millionaires, as Emmanuel Macron would hope,” he added, accusing the presidential candidate of embodying an “individualist project”.

The France Unbowed activist said he would go to the polls next week and not vote for Le Pen, but refused to say if he would now vote for Macron.

About 41 percent of those who voted for Mélenchon are expected to vote for Macron. 35 percent of them could stay at home or cast a blank ballot, while the remaining 24 percent could vote for Le Pen a survey by Opinionway.

This may seem strange considering the two politicians come from opposite ends of the political spectrum and have opposing views on immigration and the environment. But they share a deep distrust of both NATO and the EU and say they no longer want French law to be subordinated to EU law.

Mélenchon – a former socialist who launched his own new anti-establishment movement more than a decade ago – said his program for France is incompatible with existing EU regulations. He is ready for a “confrontation” with Brussels and “disregard” of EU rules if necessary.


For more survey data from across Europe, see POLITICS poll of polls.

But his radical positions on European integration did not deter France’s younger voters, who, according to polls, are on average more supportive of the EU than older voters.

“No young working-class voter asked me about the European Union. The EU is absolutely intangible to a large proportion of young people who are not traveling in Europe, who are not and will not be taking part in Erasmus [programs]’ Ngang said.

Tupak, a 30-year-old voter of Bolivian descent, said he disagreed with some of Mélenchon’s EU and foreign policy proposals, despite supporting him in the first round.

On April 24, Tupak said he would vote for Macron despite hesitation and some quips from friends. “It goes against my ideas, but I have no choice,” he said. "Like choosing between the plague and cholera." Mélenchon's young fans are faced with the runoff dilemma - POLITICO

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