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CEP discussion paper
Voting under threat: evidence from the 2020 French local elections
Elsa Leromain and Gonzague Vannoorenberghe
July 2021
Paper No' CEPDP1786:
Full Paper (pdf)

Tags: electoral turnout; local elections; covid-19; far-right

We study how Covid-related risk affected participation across the French territory in the March 2020 local elections. We document that participation went down disproportionately in towns exposed to higher Covid-19 risk. Towns that lean towards the far-right saw a stronger drop in turnout, in particular in the vicinity of clusters. We argue that these patterns are partly a result of risk perceptions, and not only of political considerations. We use data on the drop in cinema admissions in early March 2020 and show that these went down more around infection clusters, especially in areas with substantial vote for the far-right. Taken together, our findings suggest that the fear of Covid-19 may have been on average more prevalent among far-right voters, contributing to a drop in their electoral participation.