Internet activism has taken France's electoral campaign by storm with left-wing activists using social media to gain the youth vote ahead of the French elections. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)


France elects: left-wing activists take to social media in desperate attempt to narrow right-wing lead among the young


Internet activism has taken France’s electoral campaign by storm with left-wing supporters using social media to reach young voters.

After the rightwing National Rally (RN) came out on top in the European Parliament elections of June 6-9, the Left’s counter-offensive is being organised via networks such as Discord.

Tahzio, co-founder of a Discord server “La gauche d’internet” (left-wing internet), is one of those using the internet to build sympathy for the Left and attract young voters.

A Discord server can have multiple text channels. They are typically used for the community to ask and answer questions, and share jokes and memes.

“The European elections were an electro-shock. The Rassemblement National [RN] has gained a lot of ground among young people whereas, historically, it has been the Left that occupies this position,” Tahzio told Brussels Signal.

“The extreme-right occupies the space. They organise themselves on broadcast channels like WhatsApp or Telegram. We’ve now realised that the internet can also be a militant space,” he added.

With La gauche d’internet, leftist activists flood social networks with advertising for the French left-wing alliance, the New Popular Front.

They also create flyers and jerky montages called “edits” of political figures to pop music.

The server is organised into four categories: Community managers, creative content creators, news vigils and activists. Each category has a specific role for “campaigning on social networks for the New Popular Front”.

According to Tahzio, using social media in this manner will continue over time but content will depend on the results of the French snap elections.

He asserted that its methods were working.

“One girl commented that she would now vote for David Giraud [member of hard-left party La France Insoumise] because he plays Call of Duty and seems nice,” he said.

La gauche d’internet targets those who do not usually vote, and the “fachés pas facho”, i.e. angry but not fascist French citizens.

Activists are not the only ones using the internet for electoral purposes; politicians are also engaging in social media, notably RN President Jordan Bardella.

The 28-year-old is well-known among the youth for his previous internet operations. As a teenager, he used to stream video-game content on YouTube.

Bardella has used his internet knowledge to try to gain youngsters’ votes. With 1.6 million subscribers on TikTok, being present on the platform allows him to build support while highlighting certain themes.

It is impossible to say what impact such internet campaigning will have on the result. According to Statista, with just a few days before the first vote on June 30, the RN and New Popular Front are neck-and-neck among 18-24-year-olds at 35 per cent each.

By contrast, French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance enjoys just 8 per cent support among young people.

In France, the “youth” contingent is said to represent just over 5.2 million voters.