Early legislative elections: who can benefit from the boom in proxy voting?

Since the announcement of a dissolution and early legislative elections, the number of proxies validated by the Ministry of the Interior has increased rapidly.

In two weeks, more than a million proxies were established.

TF1info deciphers with sociologist Baptiste Coulmont the issues around this voting method.

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2024 legislative elections

The unexpected announcement of the vote does not prevent voters from organizing themselves to take part in the vote. Since June 10, the number of proxies validated by the Ministry of the Interior has rapidly increased, reaching more than a million on Friday June 21. TF1info tried to understand who will benefit from the mobilization around this voting method, by interviewing sociologist Baptiste Coulmont. A professor at the École Normale Supérieure Paris-Saclay, the researcher has been working for around ten years on this voting method, created in 1975, and increasingly used in certain circles.

How can we explain what seems like a craze around proxy voting?

This is above all because it is a vacation period. If the president had dissolved the National Assembly on March 15, there would not have been so many proxies. There, it’s the start of the school holidays, you have people who are leaving, who like to vote and therefore, who make proxies.

This is verified when we study the number of proxies during the different presidential elections. Usually, the presidential election falls either during the May holidays or during the Easter holidays. When it’s in the middle of a bridge, on May 7 for example, with the Monday holiday the next day, the voters make the bridge: there are a lot of proxies. When this vote falls during the Easter holidays, there are proxies in the areas where people are on vacation, and there are fewer proxies in the area where children have returned to school.

The proxy does not mobilize abstainers.

Baptiste Coulmont

Does this significant number of proxies mean greater mobilization, particularly among abstainers?

No not at all. The people who make proxies are people who already vote. The proxy does not mobilize abstainers. If an abstainer voted, he would vote directly. The proxy is the vote of those who are not there on voting day, therefore of those who are mobile and who are used to voting. But you also need to have loved ones who are as participatory as you.

Because if you are an abstainer, there is a good chance that your loved ones are too. Consequently, these are not the people you will be able to motivate to vote twice. Whereas when you have people who are used to voting, you can easily find people to carry your proxy, and what’s more, it’s a pleasure. The agent will vote twice, there are people who are very happy to put two ballots in the box.

Moreover, when the Ministry of the Interior broadcasts the figures linked to proxies, it only broadcasts the overall number and not their geographical distribution, even though this is information that is known. The large number of proxies is presented as a sign of enthusiasm, of enthusiasm around the vote when it is only a sign that those who are used to voting will vote well.

There is a social reality of proxy voting

Baptiste Coulon

How is proxy voting distributed geographically in France?

In France, it is possible to be registered on the electoral roll in a place other than where you live. If we look at the geography of proxy voting, it corresponds to that of registrations. Many proxy votes come from people who no longer live in their original municipality but who continue to carry out their political activities there. We also see that there are many proxies in the beautiful areas of cities. We find proxies in Neuilly-sur-Seine, in Versailles, in the 7th arrondissement of Paris… They are not in Sarcelles, nor in Saint-Denis. They are in the beautiful neighborhoods of Bordeaux, Lyon… There is a social reality of proxy voting.

What does it mean about people voting by proxy? What is their profile ?

These are people who manage to combine the practice of voting and the practice of leisure. The person who votes by proxy is generally a highly qualified executive who has a high standard of living. There are as many men as women. They are young people between 20 and 40 years old. The proxy is far from being the voting method for elderly people.

We can distinguish two scenarios. Either they are young executives who are still registered with their parents and who are therefore elsewhere on voting day. Or they are people with young children who are forced to take vacation at that time. In all cases, these are people with a high standard of living because the others cannot afford to go on vacation and do not need to make a proxy to vote.

Certainly, there are people who work on Sunday who could be required to provide power of attorney. We know that workers or employees are most affected by this work on Sundays. However, it is not the social categories that vote the most.

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Therefore, can we venture to know who will benefit from this mobilization around the power of attorney?

It is difficult because power of attorney remains a rare practice. How many millions of people are registered to vote? 30 million maybe [au 8 mai 2024, l’INSEE comptabilisait un peu plus de 49 millions d’inscrits, ndlr]. There are a million proxies there. This is small compared to the number of registered participants. This will make 5% of voters, roughly. In polls, it is therefore very difficult to measure who will vote for so-and-so.

Despite everything, there are political groups which have allowed the spread of proxy voting for around twenty years. It is rather the right, the liberal wing of the PS, the right of the Republicans and the government of Emmanuel Macron. It is around these electoral majorities that proxy voting was liberalized. These politicians probably saw in it the possible recruitment of an electorate.


Aurélie LOEK

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