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majority judgment to fight against abstention and the useful vote?

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Experienced during the popular primaries in January, the majority judgment ballot is discussed again during this between two rounds of the presidential election. An experiment carried out by the Mieux Voter association, the CNRS and the University of Paris-Dauphine made it possible to compare the current voting method and the majority judgment.

With 12,824,169 registered voters who preferred abstention to any of the twelve candidates present during the first round of the presidential elections, the two-round direct single-member majority vote, practiced for French presidential elections since 1965, once again showed Its limits. Above all because to these abstentionists we must add the 543,609 blank votes, the 247,151 invalid votes and the very numerous – but incalculable – useful votes.

“If we reason in percentage of registered voters, the abstention-blank-null bloc comes out widely in the lead in the first round with 27% when Emmanuel Macron only makes 20%”, analyzes Chloé Ridel, co-founder of the Better Voter association. . “This means that, regardless of the winner on April 24, 80% of the French registered on the electoral lists will not have voted for the future president in the first round, whose legitimacy will be extremely fragile.”


The Mieux Voter association has been campaigning since its creation, in January 2018, to improve the French electoral system and proposes the implementation of the majority judgment. Imagined in the early 2000s by two researchers from the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), Michel Balinski and Rida Laraki, this voting method invites voters to express their opinion on all candidates by giving them a mention. A method that allows evaluating several applications and judging them with nuances, without canceling each other.


“In addition to abstention, the first round of the presidential elections has once again highlighted one of the scourges of our democracy: the useful vote, Judge Chloé Ridel. Countless voters preferred to bet on a candidate better placed in the polls than on her first choice.”

>> Read: What is majority judgment used by popular primaries?

In fact, Emmanuel Macron, Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Mélenchon have fully benefited from the useful vote logic by diverting votes from Valérie Pécresse, Éric Zemmour and the rest of the left respectively. However, in their speech after the announcement of the results, these three candidates expressed themselves as if all the votes they had collected corresponded to 100% of a membership vote.

Measure actual adherence to a candidate

To highlight this paradox, the Mieux Voter association launched, from April 4 to 10, an online consultation to compare the current voting system with the majority judgment. Participants were asked to choose their candidate in the first round according to the first-past-the-post system and rate each candidate on a citation scale ranging from “Excellent” to “Rejected.”

About 30,000 people participated in the consultation, the vast majority of whom were left-wing voters. Thus, in the majority vote, Jean-Luc Mélenchon obtained 55.46% of the votes of the participants, followed by Emmanuel Macron (14.38%) and Yannick Jadot (10.52%).

Majority Ballot Evaluation (Voting Better query conducted online April 7-10, 2022)
Majority Ballot Evaluation (Voting Better query conducted online April 7-10, 2022) © Vote better

But even if this consultation was not intended to form a representative sample of the French electorate and that Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s supporters were overrepresented there, “the analysis of the results is nonetheless very instructive,” states the report written by Mieux. Voter, CNRS and Paris-Dauphine University.

If, as expected, we find Jean-Luc Mélenchon also at the head of the majority opinion, with a “Good” mention, followed by all the left-wing candidates, Emmanuel Macron falls to seventh place, with a “Poor” mention.

Majority Judgment Evaluation (Voting Better Consultation held online from April 7 to 10, 2022)
Majority Judgment Evaluation (Voting Better Consultation held online from April 7 to 10, 2022) © Vote better

In addition, the majority opinion allows to measure the real support to a candidate. “Although 55% of the participants indicated that they intended to vote for Jean-Luc Mélenchon on the classic ballot, only 18% gave him the maximum mention ‘Excellent’, 22% the mention ‘Very good’ and 19% % mention ‘Good’. ‘”, underlines the report. Likewise, “Yannick Jadot’s score in the majority vote (10.52%) does not reflect his real legitimacy since in the majority opinion, 36.7% of the participants believe that he is at least ‘Well'”.

“A rating is not a vote”

However, are French voters and the political class ready to change the voting system? The experience of the popular primaries in January was an opportunity to hear many negative comments about the Majority Judgment.

“A note is not a vote. (…) Voters are not judges, they are citizens,” commented in particular the former President of the Republic, François Hollande, on January 31, during a debate organized at Sciences-Po Paris.


“It is good that there is discussion, replies Chloé Ridel. Any new or revolutionary idea is always received with derision. But now, the debate exists. possible to have a voting system that leaves out so many people.

Meanwhile, the experiment launched by Mieux Voter for the second round of the presidential elections continues. And while the consultation initiated with its activists by La France insoumise shows that a majority has expressed itself in favor of the blank vote and that many left-wing voters are torn between voting for Emmanuel Macron, blank voting or abstention, the judgment of the majority would allow them to block the extreme right while they judge Emmanuel Macron’s project “insufficient”.

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