General elections in France | beating and mayhem

He had promised to free France from its extremes. It missed. Sunday’s general election instead blessed the rise of the far left and far right, depriving Emmanuel Macron of the absolute majority he needed to govern.

Posted at 5:00 am

Jean Christophe Laurence

Jean Christophe Laurence
The press

“It’s a beating for Emmanuel Macron, it’s an immense disappointment and a defeat that no one in power predicted,” said Caroline Vigoureux, a political journalist opinion.

The Presidential Coalition together! won only 245 seats out of 577, ie 44 fewer than the 289 required for an absolute majority. A victory-turned-defeat for the Macronist camp, which won more than 350 seats in 2017.


PHOTO LUDOVIC MARIN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic

NUPES (for New Popular Ecological and Social Union), a left-wing coalition founded by La France insoumise leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, takes second place with 131 seats as Marine Le Pen’s National Rally makes a historic breakthrough 89 deputies. Eleven times more than 2017!


PHOTO MICHEL EULER, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, founder of NUPES, during a speech on the evening of the second round of the general elections

This fragmented National Assembly, even “ungovernable” according to various media outlets, will clearly be a headache for the President and his Prime Minister, Elizabeth Borne, who are in an unfortunate position and whose opposition is already claiming their heads.

Because the tandem will find itself confronted with two hostile and uncompromising wings whose views are diametrically opposed on issues as diverse as the environment, pensions, immigration, purchasing power, Europe or Nato.

The Macron of the first five years was free to impose his reforms, but that’s over. This time the National Assembly will be a cauldron. Each invoice will be the subject of tough negotiations. It becomes a widespread bazaar like the Ve Republic has no known.

Caroline Vigoureux, journalist at opinion

How will the President approach his vast reform field? That is the question.

Caroline Vigoureux points out that post-election coalitions are not part of the DNA of French or Macronie political culture.

But this new government will have no choice but to water down its wine if it wants to carry out any part of its program without getting into trouble from the opposition.

Among other things, it cannot be ruled out that Macronie will turn to the 61 MPs from the right-wing party Les Républicains (LR), with which she has certain affinities, especially on an economic level.

“There are no irreconcilable differences of opinion between them. There are few issues on which it is enough not to act, such as more progressive societal reforms that are difficult to reconcile with an alliance with the traditional right,” stresses political scientist Thomas Guénolé.

The price of mistakes

The weak performance of the presidential party on Sunday can be explained by the attrition of power, mistrust of Macron’s policies and the winds of “freedom” that continue to blow over France.

But for the experts, Emmanuel Macron pays the price for tactical mistakes that contradict his reputation as a good strategist. By campaigning under the radar in hopes of surfing on his accomplishments, the president robbed himself of the renewed breath that could have made the difference.

It was also without counting on the dynamic NUPES, directed by Jean-Luc Mélenchon. It seems, however, that this unprecedented left bloc (Greens, Socialists, Communists, La France insoumise) will not last beyond the election: despite Mélenchon’s call to form a “unified group” in the assembly, everyone seemed to be withdrawing on Monday want marbles.

For its part, its unprecedented scoring has allowed the National Rally to establish itself as the main opposition group in the assembly. An unexpected result that confirms the normalization of the extreme right in France


PHOTO JOHANNA GERON, REUTERS

The National Rally, whose leader Marine Le Pen is pictured, more than improved on the previous general election.

“These are undoubtedly the big winners of this election because they are a double whammy,” notes political scientist Jean Petaux.

Objectively, Marine Le Pen went from 8 to 89 MPs, which has never happened before. Symbolically, it shatters the famous glass ceiling that made people believe the RN could never achieve a consistent result in the general election without an ally.

Jean Petaux, political scientist

Note that the 245-seat presidential coalition has the lowest relative majority in the history of the Ve Republic. A score well below the 275 deputies available to François Mitterrand from 1988 to 1993, which had enabled him to govern, leaning sometimes from the left, sometimes from the right and with strong support from Article 49-3 tried for support.

The Macron/Borne tandem may want to push the use of this device to bypass Parliament and pass a piece of legislation. But unlike the days of Mitterrand, who used it 39 times, its use today is limited to once per session, budget aside.

In short, Macronie is not over the hill.

Learn more

  • 46.23%
    Participation rate 2e turn of the legislature

    38.6%
    Percentage of the vote of the coalition Together!

  • 31.6%
    Percentage of votes received by the NUPES coalition

    17.3%
    Percentage of votes received from the National Rally

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