June 9 EU elections: Priorities in France differ to rest of Europe

Far-right parties tipped to make gains

Jordan Bardella has a big following on social media - and strong lead in the polls
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Inflation and security are the key concerns cited by people in France in the run-up to the European elections on June 9 – contrary to other Europeans, who focus more on healthcare issues. 

A poll commissioned by European TV chain Arte found inflation was French people’s main worry, with public safety coming next. 

Two-thirds of respondents said national concerns would determine their vote.

The recent killing of two prison guards at a Normandy toll booth, as well as riots in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia, have seen security become even more of a hot topic.

Poll lead for far-right

Personalities are, however, also likely to play a part, with many supporters of Jordan Bardella – the young president of the far-right Rassemblement National (RN) and the head of its list for these elections – citing his good looks and appealing, media-friendly personality. 

Opinion polls show the RN maintaining its lead ahead of the EU vote. 

Already, it polled the most votes overall in 2019 elections when, as now, its list was led by Mr Bardella. 

Read more: Updating EU election poll: See changes in intention to vote in France

Mr Bardella, 28, had a projected 31% of the vote, according to an Opinion Way poll for CNews, Europe 1 and JDD in mid-May.

In contrast, President Macron’s ruling coalition (Renaissance, MoDem, Horizons and UDI) and its lead candidate Valérie Hayer were at 16%.

Mr Bardella, who was elected to the European Parliament five years ago when he was just 23, has been especially gaining support among younger voters. He has 1.2 million followers on social media platform TikTok, which is a favourite with teenagers.

He is also gaining support as a potential presidential candidate in 2027.

Some see him as more electable than Le Pen, who has already stood and failed three times, following her father who stood five times. 

Not carrying the Le Pen name is seen by some as an advantage. He is also seen as less angry and confrontational.

However, Marion Maréchal, the 34-year-old niece of Marine Le Pen, who is running for the anti-immigration Reconquête party, headed by former TV pundit Eric Zemmour, could split the far-right vote. 

'Europe is mortal'

President Macron, meanwhile, used a speech at the Sorbonne to try to drum up support for his list and set out his vision for Europe. 

Warning of the need to scale up defence, he said: “Our Europe, today, is mortal and it can die.” 

He added that the bloc was “not armed against the risks we face” in a world where the “rules of the game have changed”. 

On the far-left, most of the drama has been over bad behaviour from France Insoumise supporters. 

The party broke from its socialist and green allies in the last elections and its supporters have been shouting down anyone who is not in France Insoumise if they try to hold public meetings. 

La France Insoumise’s challenge is led by Manon Aubry, some of whose policies, such as ending free markets, run counter to the foundations of the EU. 

However, her campaign has focused largely on attacking Israel’s invasion of Gaza. There are a record 37 party lists this time. 

At the last European elections, in 2019, just over half (50.1%) of the French electorate voted, putting the country slightly under the European average of 50.6% turnout.