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Ifop poll for “Pèlerin”: French Catholics give the nod to Marine Le Pen’s nationalistic right

Increasing numbers of practising Catholics have voted for Front National. According to a survey by IFOP, 32% of Catholic voters said they chose Marine Le Pen in the election held Sunday, December 6. The appeal of bishop Brunin: "Do not let yourselves be paralysed by ideological discourse”

Practising Catholics in France voted with great participation and gave the nod to the Front National of Marine Le Pen. Figures were released in an Ifop survey commissioned by the French daily “Pèlerin”, posted on its website and published on the newspaper’s issue of December 10. The survey conducted by Ifop Research Institute, on a sample of 2.904 people at the first round of regional elections past Sunday, shows that 32% of “Catholic” voters said they opted for the Front National, compared to 28.4% of the overall vote for FN. The moderate right gained 33% of Catholic votes out of 27.1% of all voters, while 19% of Catholics chose the Socialist Party.

French Catholics are increasingly drawn by Marine Le Pen. The poll compared electoral choices with religious practice. Accordingly, French Catholic citizens who describe themselves as “practising” faithful continue leaning towards the moderate right represented by the Republicans and Udi (46%). However, figures show that 24% of regularly practising Catholics chose the Front National. Interestingly,

15% more practising Catholics voted for Le Pen compared to the departmental elections of past March, when only 9% of Catholics voted Front National.

“The French electorate’s attraction for FN – remarked Ifop expert Jérôme Fourquet – was particularly felt among the traditionally right-wing constituency, consisting of practising Catholics and senior citizens”.

The survey equally examined the reasons underlying Catholic citizens’ votes to understand whether they were influenced by Daesh threat following the 13 November attacks. The Ifop poll shows that a set of factors determined their vote. These are: employment (71%), security (61%), purchasing power (57%), the fight on terrorism (57%), along with the issue of the reception of refugees. (52%). The poll also highlights Catholic voters’ turnout at the polls, which restored the picture of Catholics that go to the ballot boxes after attending Sunday Mass. In fact, 90% of the practising Catholics surveyed went to the polls last Sunday, signalling a 17% increase compared to March Departmental elections. However, these figures are no surprise: sociologist Nicolas de Brémond d’Ars pointed out that Catholics per se are sincerely committed inside parishes or within Catholic associations.

Local programs have not been duly considered. Monsignor Jean-Luc Brunin, bishop of Le Havre, president of the Family and Society Council within the French Bishops’ Conference, delved into the reasons for the results of past Sunday, when Front National won the first round in France’s regional elections. Answering a question by RCF Catholic Radio, the bishop admitted his surprise, “as FN failed to present a political program ahead of the vote”. For Mons. Brunin: “Front National spoke about migrants, but the question of regulating migratory flows is not a regional responsibility. They spoke about security, but also this issue does not lie within regional jurisdiction”. These results signal “fears and concerns for the future, as well as forms of rejection”. There is the risk of triggering “divisions” in the Country while the challenge that France is called to face today is to “promote social cohesion” which entails “the responsibility of the political realm”. The bishop addressed the members of his dioceses in a public statement: “Do not let yourselves be paralysed by electoral promises or ideological discourse that does not fall within the province of the regional government”. “The Gospel and the teaching of Pope Francis encourage us to responsibly participate in the development of a fraternal society based on solidarity”.


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