From British daily The Independent:
French electorate splits into two tribes of young and old
By John Lichfield
Published: 08 May 2007
A typical Sarkozy voter was a male shopkeeper in his sixties in a rural town in eastern or southern France.
A typical Royal voter was a young woman student in a west or south-west city.
The sociological and regional division of France into the tribes of “Sarko” and “Ségo” is fascinating – and defies some of the conventional wisdom about the presidential campaign.
Mme Royal, the Socialist candidate, dismissed by the Right as the candidate of the past, scored heavily among the young and the middle-aged (with the exception of those aged 25 to 34).
In an election restricted to French voters aged 18 to 59, Mme Royal would have won handsomely.
M. Sarkozy owes his victory to a “wrinkly” landslide with an overwhelming triumph among French voters in their sixties (61 per cent of the vote) and a jackpot among the over-seventies (68 per cent).
The centre-right candidate promised to put France “back to work” and create a new, more dynamic future. His greatest appeal – paradoxically – was to people over retirement age.
They were swayed not by his promises of a New France but his appeals to the “moral” values of an Old France, and especially his tough rhetoric on crime, immigration and national identity. …
M. Sarkozy did well in Normandy and the north but he picked up his largest scores – up to 68 per cent of the vote – in the former far-right [many Le Pen voters] bastions of Alsace and the Côte d’Azur.
“Sarkoland” covers two thirds of France but its heartlands are the permanently reactionary and “grumpy” départements along France’s eastern borders.
In sociological terms, the vote was relatively predictable.
Mme Royal won among students, public-sector employees, blue-collar workers and the unemployed.
M. Sarkozy won among private-sector employees, small businessmen, professionals, farmers and the managerial classes.
He won an absolute landslide – 82 per cent – among shop-keepers and small tradespeople who suffer from the highly-taxed and bureaucratic French economy.
According to an Ipsos poll, M. Sarkozy won among both men and women. Mme Royal did better (48 per cent) among women than men (46 per cent).
The generational schisms revealed by the poll are striking. The “internet” generation of 18- to 24-year-olds voted 58 per cent for Mme Royal. The 25- to 34-year-olds voted 57 per cent for M. Sarkozy.
The “May 1968”- Mitterrand generation of 45- to 59-year-olds voted 55 per cent for Mme Royal. The 35 to 44 generation split 50-50.1.
See also here.
A problem for Ms Royal was that the groups in which she was stronger (workers, youth, women) tend to stay at home at elections relatively more.
The Independent article does not mention if that was true also at this election; but, if so indeed: without that problem, Royal might be President now.
Yesterday, Dutch NOS TV had a portrait of what they presented as a “typical” Sarkozy voter: a high salary twenty-something woman.
So, as a woman and young, not typical for Sarkozy at all, though the high income fitted.
The difference between, on the one hand, 18-24-year-olds and 45- to 59-year-olds, on the other hand, the groups between 25-44, may be that the former both had experiences of progressive movements with millions of people involved: “May 1968” and the spring 2006 victorious movement against the plans of the Rightist government, including Sarkozy, to make it easier for bosses to sack young workers.
It is to be hoped that Sarkozy supporters will not get a majority in the French parliament which will be elected in June.
And that any harmful plans proposed by Sarkozy, will meet with as strong, or even stronger, a popular opposition as in spring 2006.
Police crackdown on opposition to Sarkozy: here.
Sarkozy, May 1968, and Georges Séguy: here.