By Emma Paoli
Are French journalists playing on people’s fear in order to sell more papers? Or are they just bad at math? They always make the extremist political party “Front National” appear much more popular than it really is.
This party secured 26% of the vote during the first round of France’s regional elections. Thus, the media stated that 26% of the electorate voted for them, creating a wave of panic in France.
“How can a reactionary and xenophobic party, animated by an ideology that goes against the values of the Republic, and carrying demagogic and dangerous proposals, appear as the solution for more than a quarter of the electorate?”, the established French newspaper Le Monde ominously wonders.
But anyone looking more closely at the numbers could draw a completely different conclusion.
There are 45 million electors in France and only 6 million of them voted Front National. If you divide the latter by the former then you get 13% instead of the earlier stated 26%. In other words, about one elector out of ten voted for this party.
Why did the media get it wrong?
50% of those eligible to vote showed up at the ballot box. Therefore, the media stated the right number but referred to the wrong population. It was not 26% of the electorate but 26% of voters who chose Front National during the first round of the regional elections.