Retelling the Story of the 2017 French Presidential Election: The Contribution of Approval Voting
26 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2020
Date Written: August 31, 2020
This paper proposes an alternative reading of the politics of the 2017 French presidential election, using an unstudied source of information on voters’ preferences: experimental data on approval voting. We provide a new narrative of the election process and outcome. The principal approach for understanding the political context has for many decades been a distinction between left and right-wing political forces. We introduce a method for generating an endogenous political axis, and construct three indices so that we might understand how and why the conventional approach has become progressively irrelevant. We find no gender effect, but instead an age effect. Voters, especially those who belong to generations at the beginning or the end of their working life, use their vote in national elections to support radical change; and the younger the voters, the less they conform to a left-right axis. However, this desire for change does not represent a rejection of existing parties, as the official results would suggest. Rather, the approval results suggest an erosion in the voters’ minds of barriers between distinct political camps, and between traditional and populist parties.
Keywords: French Presidential election, Left-Right axis, Cultural backlash, Political space, Approval voting, Voting experiment
JEL Classification: C93, D72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation