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Post-first round FN seat forecast
By Jocelyn Evans, Gilles Ivaldi
28 March 2014 | Polls & Forecasts | 842 words
Many commentators have referred to the need for the FN to expand its network of local councillors and grassroots. The institutionalization of the party requires to establish a more solid base throughout the country. The party needs new cadres in their thousands to prepare for future elections where political presence and local implantation will be key to electoral success.

The final seat share for the FN in these municipals will therefore be of crucial importance. In a previous blog, we provided a forecast of how many seats and municipalities Marine Le Pen’s party was likely to win this year. Our estimation was based on local polls. In many cases, these proved anything but reliable. Polling of voting intentions across some 50 key towns almost universally under-estimated the FN support. Four of the FN’s big wins – Hénin-Beaumont, Fréjus, Perpignan and Marseille– were out by more than 5 percentage points.

Our analysis of polls revealed no consistent trend when controlling for the party’s results in 2012, which indicated that the national level of support for the FN in 2014 should be fairly similar to the legislatives, notwithstanding of course local variations and discrepancies due to specific candidate effects. We therefore employed a combination of polling data –where available– with a simple lagged model estimating the FN score from its previous 2012 performance based on the hypothesis that the party would mostly consolidate in the municipals. Our model yielded a total of 1,637 local councillors across the 587 municipalities with more than 1,000 inhabitants, and we anticipated possible wins in eight cities.

With the final results now in, it is time to re-assess the premises and outcome of our model. Last Sunday, the FN totalled one million votes across the 587 municipalities where it was fielding lists, a success which eclipsed the 2008 municipal debacle. The party led the first round in 18 municipalities, winning an absolute majority in the Northern city of Hénin-Beaumont. The 2014 election showed the electoral stabilization of the FN, thanks to new ‘de-demonized’ low-profile and younger candidates. When contrasted with the 2012 legislatives, the size of the FN electorate grew by about 10 per cent, to 10 per cent of registered voters in areas contested by the party (compared with 9.4 per cent in 2012). Rather than a massive surge in support for the French far right, then, what was demonstrated in the first round was the party’s ability to hold on to voter support across all levels of electoral competition, national and local.

The first round results confirmed the premises of our model: the average difference in score between the first round of the legislatives and the first round of the municipals was -0.1, but we found a substantial amount of variation around this mean with a standard deviation of 6 points. Whilst the FN has accentuated its presence in its ‘mission priorities’, it has on the other hand lost ground in its Southern bastions where, it should be noted, some of its candidates such as Gilbert Collard or Marion Maréchal-Le Pen had performed very well in 2012.

Where does that leave us in terms of seat share for the FN and possible municipal wins? Based on its first-round scores, the FN should be able to contest 321 second-round runoffs. The party has announced that it will merge with the mainstream right in Villeneuve-Saint-Georges and L’Hôpital, and that it will support the right in Sevran.

The party has already won 483 local councillors in the first round (including Briois’s 28 seats in Hénin-Beaumont). Looking at the balance of power between the main political blocs in each municipality, the FN could win an additional 1,058 seats on Sunday. As can be seen from the table below, the party’s best chances of topping the second round are found across cities where its candidates led the first round.

Municipalities with best chances of FN wins (updated 28 March 2014)

Municipality

Size (inhabitants)

% Left

% right

% FN

Runoff

FN win

Villers-Cotterêts

3,500-20,000

6.14

27.03

32.04

FN-PS-DVD

No

Digne-les-Bains

3,500-20,000

46.43

25.88

27.69

FN-DVG-UMP

No

Marseille secteur 7

30,000+

39.28

27.83

32.88

FN-UMP-PS

No**

Tarascon

3,500-20,000

9.81

50.95

39.24

FN-UMP

No*

Beaucaire

3,500-20,000

12.07

18.17

32.84

FN-DIV-DVD-PS

Yes

Saint-Gilles

3,500-20,000

23.14

34.28

42.57

FN-UMP

Yes*

Béziers

30,000+

24.95

30.17

44.88

FN-UMP-DVG

Yes

Forbach

20-30,000

33

31.25

35.75

FN-PS-DVD-UMP

Yes

Hayange

3,500-20,000

35.87

20.4

30.41

FN-DVD-PS-DIV

No**

Montigny-en-Gohelle

3,500-20,000

71.14

0

28.86

FN-PS-DVG

No

Perpignan

30,000+

22.7

43.11

34.19

FN-UMP

No*

Cluses

3,500-20,000

11.61

56.98

31.41

FN-DVD-DVD-DVG

No

Brignoles

3,500-20,000

27.39

35.54

37.07

FN-UMP

No*

Cogolin

3,500-20,000

19.22

41.75

39.03

FN-DVD

No*

Fréjus

30,000+

15.58

44.11

40.3

FN-UMP-DVD

Yes*

Le Luc

3,500-20,000

38.92

24.14

36.94

FN-DVD-DVG-DVG

Yes

Avignon

30,000+

44.66

25.71

29.63

FN-PS-UMP

No**

Le Pontet

3,500-20,000

13.12

52.22

34.66

FN-UMP-DVD

Yes*

Valréas

3,500-20,000

15.77

38.89

36.1

FN-DVD

No*

First round scores for blocs, in % of valid votes; *Front Républicain by the left; **Alliance between the PS and the FG



Based on current information about party alliances and Front Républicain strategies, we anticipate that the FN could win another 7 municipalities, which would therefore give the party an additional 132 bonus seats, up to a total of 1,700 local councillors (updated 28 March 2014). This would represent only a marginal increase on our initial forecast, attesting to the validity of the general –and admittedly simplistic–model used in our original estimate. It would also demonstrate the stabilisation of vote from the legislative first-order to the municipal second-order, confirming the FN’s return to its party system position of 20 years ago.

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Welcome to '500Signatures', for analysis and commentary on French politics and elections

This blog is produced by Jocelyn Evans (University of Leeds) and Gilles Ivaldi (University of Nice)

 
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France’s new earthquake election? The FN in the European elections


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since 10 January 2012

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Jocelyn Evans [@JocelynAJEvans] is Professor of Politics at the University of Leeds

Gilles Ivaldi is a CNRS researcher in political science based at the University of Nice

 
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CATEGORY
 
DATA

- Forecasting the FN vote in Second-Order elections (updated 12 May 2014)

- Forecasting the FN vote in Second-Order elections (Jan. 2014)

- Polling scores by polling type (CATI v CAWI) (updated 20 April 2012)

- Estimating Marine Le Pen's vote in the 2012 presidentials: an experiment (November 2011)

- Data for the 2011 expert forecast survey (in CSV file)

 

 


 
Last modified on Monday 25 April 2016
Copyright Gilles Ivaldi - @2012-2014