A blitz campaign exposed to controversy

The announcement of the dissolution of the National Assembly by the President of the Republic on 9 June – to everyone’s surprise – has once again made X a hotbed of debate around the first proposals put forward.

Between the day of the announcement and this Tuesday 18 June, 457,600 instances of the hashtags #LégislativesAnticipées, #Législatives #Législatives2024 or even #Dissolution were published, generating more than 14.7 million engagements (likes, shares, comments), an average of 40,000 publications per day. By comparison, over a 9-day period, 71,890 publications relating to the European elections were published on X, three weeks before the first round.

Positions taken by sports figures or content creators, speculation about the forthcoming results, uncertainty, anger… social networks were the sounding board for the political passions that stirred the French.

Understanding the popular ideas circulating online

In this unprecedented context, Antidox wanted to study the conversations on X, since the date of the dissolution of the Assembly, to identify and understand the different ideas or proposals put forward. The scope of the study is based on a bias: analysis of the perception of key socio-political issues or the positions taken on them – whether they are affirmed as such by the French in the various opinion polls, or whether they appear in the programmes of the various parties in the running, or as far as we can tell. Energy, mobility, education, health, pensions and agriculture: these 6 socio-economic themes have been chosen to understand the main arguments currently circulating online and the associated reactions.

Ranking of themes by number of publications on X.

Ranking of themes by number of commitments on X.

Energy, a central theme unfortunately limited to the question of price

Discussions around energy are central. More than 100,000 publications have been noted since Sunday 9 June, generating nearly 1.2 million engagements. Behind these massive conversations is, of course, the issue of energy prices, echoing the concerns of the French and their purchasing power, a central theme of the current campaign.

Noting the importance of energy bills to French people’s voting intentions, the major parties in the running have all pledged to achieve real reductions in energy prices. On both the left and the right, the biggest promises are met with either strong support or criticism as to their feasibility. Official communications and media coverage have therefore been very important on this subject, all the more so when the President’s party has also pledged to reduce energy bills by 2025.

When it comes to energy policy, there are two clear camps. On the right, a number of representatives of the Rassemblement National have made clear their hostility to renewable energies, with wind turbines at the top of the list, judged to be costly, inefficient and damaging to the landscape. On the left, on the other hand, there is a desire to focus on these energies, and while nothing is said about nuclear power, the nomination under the Nouveau Front Populaire label of certain candidates known for their anti-nuclear stance, such as Dominique Voynet, has provoked many hostile reactions on X. On a more marginal note, there are a number of discussions or links being made with the European Union and the common electricity market. The energy transition and decarbonisation objectives remain far from the heart of the debates.

The question of pensions, still a polarising issue

Alongside energy, the question of pensions is emerging as a major issue in these early general elections, with over 59,000 unique publications counted. The subject is a passion for X users, generating over 1.5 million interactions. An illustration of the enduring importance of this debate in the news.

Proposals and criticisms are multiplying, reflecting the diversity of positions on this subject, but it is a theme particularly invested by the New Popular Front (NFP). The Rassemblement National (RN) is facing accusations of reversing its initial positions, prompting criticism of its credibility and consistency. For its part, the NFP is taking a clear stance on the repeal of pension reform, arguing that it is necessary to restore greater fairness for pensioners. This proposal is vigorously defended by its spokespeople, who are seeking to distinguish themselves politically from the RN. For their part, Gabriel Attal and Renaissance are defending the reform on X.

The neo-media account Cerfia, with nearly a million subscribers, which like others has established a permanent presence on X since the Covid period, published a post criticising Jordan Bardella’s “backtracking”. This post attracted the most engagement, with 55,000 interactions and 5.7 million views. The issue of pensions thus continues to structure the political and social landscape, resurfacing with force during these early general elections in 2024.

Health: measures deemed inappropriate in the face of a critical situation

The subject of health is also widely commented on, with over 50,000 publications generating more than 1.1 million engagements. Web users are expressing strong concerns on this issue, citing the lack of healthcare staff, the situation of public hospitals, the need for healthcare workers to be recognised and valued, as well as the persistent challenges of medical deserts. The subjects of nursing homes, the “ageing well” plan and the draft law on the end of life, which has been put on hold since the announcement of the dissolution, are less prominent.

The RN’s proposal to abolish Aide Médicale d’Etat (State Medical Aid) caused great concern among X users, fuelling harsh criticism of the RN’s health programme. A publication by the NGO Médecins du Monde, warning of the potential consequences of this political party for the healthcare system, generated more than 13,000 engagements. At the same time, the presidential majority’s announcement of a €1-a-day public health insurance scheme seems to have had a more moderate echo in public discussions. When it is mentioned, it often provokes critical reactions and questions about its feasibility and real value.

By Hamama Naili, Alexandre Kahn and Matthieu Levray.