With almost 59% of the votes on 2and Emmanuel Macron could have triumphed in the presidential elections. After all, here is a better score than that of François Mitterrand or even General de Gaulle when he was in a second round.
Posted at 6:00 am
But at the foot of the Eiffel Tower on Sunday, what we saw was rather a Macron who seemed to have understood how much his victory was due to both the special circumstances and appreciation of his first term as president.
He acknowledged that many voters chose him not because of his membership but to block the National Rally and the far right. And that the very high abstention rate of 28% means a “denial of choice to which we must respond”.
No wonder he promised that his second term “will not be a continuation of the one that is ending” and that he will undertake a “reestablishment” of his methods there.
The election campaign showed that there are deep divisions in France, which Macron’s first term in office exacerbated rather than calmed. The Yellow Vests crisis was the most eloquent example, but it was not the only one.
In fact, many French people have the impression that they are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet and that their government and president have had little time for their day-to-day problems, devoting more time to important issues, diplomatic and far from the field and the citizens .
Macron needs to change, and his very brief victory speech on Sunday seemed to show he knows and wants to.
But Mr Macron’s re-election also brings major upheavals to French politics. The traditional parties of right and left are practically smashed.
The main political formations – right and left alike – reject the current system: both the National Rally and La France insoumise want much bigger changes than those brought about by simply switching between parties on the right or the left. That also says a lot about the fractures in French society.
But from all that has been said, Mr Macron is in a pretty good position for the general elections that will take place on June 12th and 19th. The “third round” as we say in France.
The two-round system in general elections should allow Macron’s La République en Marche party to retain a majority in the National Assembly, even if it won’t be what it was five years ago.
On the right it is clear that a real civil war is about to begin. Despite a record result for the far right – 41.2% – the leadership of Marine Le Pen is being challenged.
Candidate Éric Zemmour was quick to declare that “those who love France have been defeated for too long. Oh! This is the eighth time Le Pen has suffered defeat,” counting the defeats of Marine and her father Jean-Marie Le Pen.
With 7% of the vote in the first ballot, Mr Zemmour says in thinly veiled words that Marine Le Pen cannot win and offers to replace her as leader of the extreme right. Despite his disappointment, Ms. Speechme Le Pen made it clear that she has no intention of letting him take the place.
This far-right power struggle, whatever the outcome, can only help Mr. Macron, and he knows it only too well.
The left’s difficulties are of a different magnitude, but could lead to the same result.
The Socialist Party achieved its worst result in its history two weeks ago with 1.7% of the vote. The Communist Party can hardly have done better. These two historic parties on the left have every chance of not having enough MPs – the bar is 25 – to form a recognized faction.
France therefore finds itself with three major political blocs. The extreme right, the radical left and the center will be occupied entirely by the newly elected President. And if this presidential election has shown anything, it is that France rejects extremes and prefers to be governed by the center.
This center will be less comfortable than it seems. Mr Macron cannot take anything for granted since he won because his compatriots did not vote for him with much enthusiasm. Instead, they voted for “least worst.”
In these circumstances, the “third round” could well become the one of all dangers for Mr. Macron. He will have little time to show that he has learned the lessons of the presidential election and wants to govern differently.
Which is always easier said than done in any country.