Adelaide Zulfikarpasic, The white vote : abstention civic or political expression ?, French review of political science, 2001
Considered a vote of non-expressed, the white vote has long been assimilated to a mistake of the voter or a mark of indifference in regard to the policy, just as the abstention. Because the legislature has given no precise definition, the white vote has long remained a blurred object, but above all, he has never been seen as a political expression real in the same way that a vote for a party, a candidate or a list. The white vote belongs to the category of the vote in so-called ” non-expressed “, as the vote invalid.
Prior to 1995, little space was given in the French papers to the white vote. And little mention was made of the votes in the articles and comments that followed an election, not even on the occasion of the second round of the legislative elections of 1993, which, however, saw the votes reach a score of 6.4 % of registered 9.5 per cent of the voters. It is between the first and the second round of the presidential election of 1995, there was an amazing change. Several movements or associations advocating the white vote were created. In December 1989, Gérard Gautier launches in the Côte-d’armor to the movement, “White, it is expressed”. This association has presented a list of the same name in the regional elections of 1992 and got 5.1% of votes and one seat. Gérard Gautier has therefore been a regional Councillor of Bretagne from 1992 to 1998 under the label of ” White, it is expressed “. The aim was, much more than a real political action, to make public the problem of non-recognition of these votes. The Association for the recognition of the white vote, was created in 1994. Its goal is to create a real discussion around the issue of the recognition of the white vote. In January 2000, a “white Party” has been created to Caen.
In this article Adélaïde Zulfikarpasic shows that the white vote is an expression, the expression of dissatisfaction in the face of political is too narrow. Starting from the distinction between the two uses and two meanings of the white vote, and of two assumptions, it concludes that its political significance. At the outset, we can consider the white vote in one of two ways. Very educational, the author’s share of the two following assumptions, and draw thanks to an argument the true face of the white vote.
– The white vote is a political expression, and in this case, its level should be a decreasing function of the number of candidates : when the choice offered to the voter is broad, this one has more of a chance of finding a candidate that suits him ; on the other hand, when the choice is restricted, the voter can not find satisfaction among any of the candidates, and to want to express his refusal of the offer by a vote white.
– Or, on the contrary, the white vote is the mark of indifference in respect of the policy or a sign of incompetence in the matter, and in this case, its level should be increasing function of the number of candidates, just as the abstention.
Adelaide Zulfikarpasic seeks to know which of the two assumptions is the more realistic. From there, several observations support its demonstration. Since 1981, the level of the white vote is systematically higher in the second round of elections, when the number of candidates is restricted. The white vote also has a tendency to increase with the narrowing of the range of political trends in the presence, thus appearing again as an alternative in the face of limited choices. It is important to note that the “voting white” have a particular interest in the policy, requirements, and manifest, by their vote, a disappointment in regard to the policy, whether it is temporary or structural. Voting to white, they want to pass on a message and hope for change. These voters, moreover, were the sociological characteristics distinct from those of non-voters : they are not as young, are more socially integrated, more graduates, more politicized. The highest rates of white vote meet in the 25-34 years of age (10.8 per cent of them have voted for white when, compared to an average of 7.8 %), and lowest among 50-64 year-olds. The white vote is being replaced with the abstention in one case : in rural areas, the weight of the interconnaissances and social control are pushing the voters to vote white rather than to abstain.
She concludes that the white vote therefore covers two types of behavior : voting traditional white and rural, leading to abstention hidden, and the white vote recent, more urban, which is a true expression policy.