As always, the pattern in election results is revealing, and the pattern in the French referendum result did not deviate from the pattern we have seen in other similar cases.
It’s to a very large extent – in the middle of everything else – the revolt of the rural against the urban.
José Bové, who is the leader of the militant anti-globalisation movement in France and somewhat of a celebrity, was obviously right in calling it ”a protest vote”.
The large and outward-oriented urban areas of France voted yes. In the region of Paris with impressive 66,5 % and in the second biggest city Lyon with 61,4 %. Toulouse with its Airbus and space industries voted 51,3 % yes and Bordeaux did the same with 57,9 %. In Strasbourg, with its particular European history and experience, the Yes vote was 62,9 %.
But the cities were swamped by the rural areas that – with only part of western France as the exception – voted massively no. And they were joined not the least by problem-filled areas in the declining industrial north-east and in the politically polarized areas down by the Mediterranean. The city of Marseille voted no with 61,2 %.
In essence, this is not too dissimilar from the results that we had in the different referendums on European issues in the Nordic region.
The urban versus the rural, and the modernizers versus the protesters.