The real surprise in the presidential election in the West Indies is the push from Jean-Luc Mélenchon, according to political science professor Fred Reno.
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In the second round of the presidential election, the overseas territories – who in 2017 voted overwhelmingly for Emmanuel Macron – largely voted for Marine Le Pen… after overwhelmingly choosing Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the first round. Fred Reno, director of the Center for Geopolitical and International Analysis at the Guadeloupe pole of the University of the West Indies, analyzes these reversals. In particular, it highlights the health crisis and the growing mistrust of local elected officials.
Le Point: The result of the presidential election in the West Indies surprised you? In 2017, Marine Le Pen had not reached the 20% mark, whereas it is close to 70% five years later.
Fred Reno:The big difference compared to 2017 is the result of Jean-Luc Mélenchon. In five years, it is he who considerably improves his result, since he gains more than 30 points in the first round, while Marine Le Pen only increases by 4 points. If the Guyanese had wanted to win Marine Le Pen, they would have done so in the first round. In the second round, it aggregates all the protest votes. Apart from a few points, its result is the addition of the voices of Mélenchon, Zemmour and his own. There is no arithmetic in politics, but this observation means that there has been a very strong transfer of votes from Mélenchon to Marine Le Pen. I called this phenomenon the “MélenPen” vote!
Guadeloupeans voted less for Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Marine Le Pen than against Macron.
< strong>So there is no policy coherence?
This vote is a fiction. It is ideologically inconsistent. Guadeloupeans – but the remark also applies to Martiniquais or Guyanese – voted less for Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Marine Le Pen than against Macron. Besides, some of Marine Le Pen's voters don't even know what her platform is. My thesis is that these voters instrumentalize Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Marine Le Pen. The social crisis is permanent in Guyana, the health crisis has acted as a revealer.
How do you explain the strong growth of Mélenchon compared to 2017?
< p>The Insoumis were very present on the ground. We have seen a lot in the West Indies Danièle Obono and Mathilde Panot, in particular. This one had a lot of impact. I remind you that she led a commission of inquiry on drinking water with an LREM deputy. In Guyana, it is a very sensitive subject. Jean-Luc Mélenchon also struck the spirits by evoking the concept of creolization, defended before him by Aimé Césaire or Édouard Glissant. That a “metro” speaks of creolization touched a lot here. Jean-Luc Mélenchon made us an example of human relations as he imagines it, which pleased the West Indians. He also talked about them, by this notion, in mainland France.
Guadeloupeans are worried about the arrival of migrants from Dominica and Haiti.
Nevertheless: Marine Le Pen's speech relates to the West Indies, while her father was persona non grata. It won votes in the first round compared to 2017. How do you explain it?
The Lepenist discourse hits the mark because, in Guadeloupe, violence is endemic and grow. Immigration is also a controversial subject. Guadeloupeans, especially those from the working classes, are worried about the arrival of migrants from Dominica and Haiti. They consider that local elected officials, even before Emmanuel Macron came to power in 2017, did nothing to resolve the various crises that are shaking Guadeloupe, and that the health crisis has only revealed. They voted against Macron, but also against these elected officials, whom they consider to be his representatives.