As in 2017, the National Assembly is undergoing a makeover. The average age of deputies is falling slightly, in particular thanks to the elected representatives of the Nupes and Rassemblement national oppositions. To analyse. (2/4)
The youth settles in the hemicycle. If parity was undermined with the election of the new National Assembly, this is not the case with the rejuvenation process. One hundred and eighteen deputies are under 40 years old and the average age of this Assembly (48.5 years) is closer to that of the French population (42.2 years).
The new average age in the hemicycle is therefore slightly lower than that of 2017 (48.8 years). During the legislative elections that year, the results had already been marked by a strong rejuvenation, with a drop of almost six years in the average age of deputies compared to the previous term in 2012 (54.6 years). The spectacular rejuvenation of five years ago is therefore confirmed.
The presidential majority is aging
Despite everything, according to the counts made by France 24, the phenomenon hides strong disparities between the different coalitions. The oppositions on the left and on the extreme right are rejuvenating.
The average age of the elected members of the New Popular Ecological and Social Union (Nupes) is thus 45.9 years, while the National Rally (RN) can boast of an average age of 45.6 years for its troops. In the presidential majority, architect of the great rejuvenation of 2017, the average age is increasing (49.8 years). An aging which is easily explained by the renewal of outgoing deputies. The right-wing group (Les Républicains + UDI) has the highest average age (51.2 years).
The situations also vary within the coalitions themselves: on the left, La France insoumise (LFI) displays the youngest average age (41.2 years), closely followed by Europe Écologie-Les Verts (43.2 years). The Socialist Party (PS) and the Communist Party (PCF) have almost the same average age (respectively 54.4 and 54.8 years). On the side of the presidential camp, the driving force is also the youngest (48.7 years old) while the Horizons and MoDem formations are both in their fifties (respectively 51.2 and 54.3 years old). On the right, if the Les Républicains (LR) party has a high average age (50.6 years), its UDI allies are breaking all records: 60.2 years on average for its five elected officials.
For Bruno Cautrès, teacher and researcher at the Center for Political Research at Sciences Po (Cevipof), co-author of a analysis in Le Monde, the rejuvenation carried by the RN is largely due to its internal situation. “This party does not have a pool provided with local elected officials. Very often, the leaders of the RN have invested local activists without really believing in their chances of election”, he writes.
But for Armel Le Coz, co-founder of Open Democracy, an association aiming to renovate institutions, the main reason for presenting young candidates is not to obtain the vote of this category of the population. “I think that LFI and the RN are trying more to find candidates capable of speaking by breaking institutional codes. And for that, who better placed than young people?”, Underlines Armel Le Coz. “We can cite the example of Louis Boyard. Originally, he is an influencer who speaks to his community. They break the codes to show another possible policy.”
Kevins replace Bernards
Louis Boyard (Nupes), 21, has also broken the record for the youngest deputy sitting in the National Assembly, which has been held since 2012 by Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, elected that year at the age of 22. years for the National Front. However, he is not the youngest of the term. Within a few months, the honor goes to Tematai Le Gayic, regionalist elected in the first constituency of French Polynesia with the support of Nupes. This is the first time that two children from the 2000s will sit at the Palais Bourbon.
Another anecdotal but revealing phenomenon of this generational renewal: the new first names entering the National Assembly. Like two RN deputies named Kévin: Kévin Pfeffer (32) and Kévin Mauvieux (30) will be the first bearers in the hemicycle of this first name of Irish origin whose popularity reached its peak in France at the beginning of the 1990s, under the effect of the cinematographic successes of Kevin Costner as well as the film “Mom, I missed the plane” and its hero Kevin McCallister. The Bernards (eight in 2017) are endangered: none have been re-elected.
“Young people do not want an Assembly that looks like them”
However, this National Assembly is a paradox. If she has never been so young, she is the fruit of a ballot that young people will never have shunned so much. According to an Ipsos-Sopra Steria survey for France Télévisions, Radio France and France Médias Monde, 71% of 18-24 year olds and 66% of 25-34 year olds did not vote in the second round of legislative elections. Already in the first round, 69% of them had not moved.
On franceinfoOlivier Galland, sociologist and emeritus research director at the CNRS, notes a preference of young people “for forms of protest action”, such as demonstrations or “posting opinions on social networks”.
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For Open Democracy, abstention is not inevitable, especially among young people. “We believe that access to voting must be further facilitated and supported, especially for first-time voters. Facilitating postal or online voting – in a secure way – could improve participation,” said Armel Le Coz, before to warn about a potential drift for online voting. “There is the risk of desecrating the election. You should not vote for a deputy as you evaluate an Uber or order your meal on the Internet.”
The association campaigns for a major democratic reform which, ideally, would go through a constitutional reform. This would begin with a major national debate, followed by a convention bringing together citizens drawn by lot and then adoption by referendum.
“The abstention is due to a perceived impotence of the political system. Young people no longer believe in the real capacity of the National Assembly to transform society”, affirms Armel Le Coz. “So there has to be a rebalancing of powers.”
The co-founder of Open Democracy notes that the average age is the parameter with which the National Assembly comes closest to the reality of the French population. However, this representativeness is not a panacea for getting young people to vote. “Young people do not want an Assembly that looks like them but one that really has the power to change things,” he concludes.