French elections: How the Field is Shaped after the “Defeat” of Macron

The results of the second round of the French parliamentary elections came to underline that Emanuel Macron and his party have not managed to gain the trust of the majority of French citizens. Emanuel Macron may not have had the good fortune of Sarkozy and Hollande, the “one-time presidents” who failed to get re-elected, but he is, as one might see, a minority president.

And that explains why it is ultimately a political defeat for Macron that the electoral alliance that supported Macron’s candidacy failed to garner an absolute majority in the National Assembly. At the same time, the election results mean that France is entering a new landscape, on the uncharted side.

The mobilization of the Far Right

The far-right National Alarm, led by Marin Lepen, is one of the winners of the parliamentary elections. With 89 deputies, it will have the largest far-right parliamentary group since 1986, when François Mitterrand’s choice was based on a more proportional one-round system, allowing Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front, the National Alarm’s predecessor party, to acquire 35 deputies.

The National Alarm managed not only to establish itself as a key far-right force, showing the limits of Zemour’s candidacy, but also to be the main representative of the French Right in general.

The Far Right showed particular resilience in several of the “duels” of the second round, either against representatives of the Macron party or against representatives of the Left. He even took advantage of the fact that Macron’s party avoided drawing a clear line in support of the Left candidates where they were fighting with a far-right candidate, which meant that the Far Right could hope to abstain and rally part of the entire French Right.

But the most fundamental gain for the Far Right is that it is established as a political force within the National Assembly, it will be able to push the minority government much more on issues related to its own agenda on issues such as immigration or repression, it will be established as the key force of the right and will thus prepare for the post-Macron era.

The Left in the Leading Official Opposition

The main opposition force that will meet the government of Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne will be the Left. The NUPES (New Popular Ecological and Socialist Unity) alliance failed to win the first place and therefore to impose “cohabitation” on Macron, but it managed to have a significant electoral presence.

At the same time, the key change is that unruly France is clearly the mainstay of the wider Left. The terms of the alliance (which was one of the reasons it was formed) may have secured the parliamentary presence of the Communist Party, the remaining forces of the Socialist Party and the Ecologists, but the “hegemonic” current is that of Jean-Luc Melan which means that the Left is now clearly defined mainly around the fierce opposition to Macron and an attempt to represent the popular strata.

Of course, it remains to be seen how he will be able to formulate a new political composition and conditions for the return of the Left to Power in five years.

France: a fury country

Macron’s inability to form a positive “hegemonic dynamic” reflects a symptom of a deeper political crisis. This is also shown by the fragmentation of the electorate, which refers to a similar fragmentation of French society.

In France, four socio-political poles are formed:

1. On the one hand, a large part of the bourgeois and middle classes now gathers around Macron and his own version of the Center, an element that explains the disintegration of part of the traditional electoral base of the Socialists but also of the classical Right.

2. Much of “deep France”, conservative strata but also sections of the “classical working class” has shifted to the right and is increasingly recognized in the Far Right.

3. Αn alliance between the precarious youth, the employees who are anxious for the future, the “suburbs” with the citizens of immigrant origin (as well as the overseas possessions) are turning to the Left.

4. At the same time the significant height of abstention shows that a large part of society chooses in one way or another an “anti-political” attitude even if it can e.g. to participate in mass social movements.

All this explains why a “majority social alliance” cannot be easily formed. The “Center” may be based on the social strata that view the current version of politics positively, but in the end these social strata are in the minority as they show – cumulatively – that there are more strata that face Macron’s policy with reservations or anger. The far right has clearly invested in resentment and insecurity, but at the same time it faces deep hostility from sections of the youth, citizens of immigrant origin and a significant proportion of educated workers.

On the other hand, the Left needs to find a way to “detach” from the influence of the far right those popular strata that are turning to the Far Right, or to put it descriptively, to be able to unite the whole in a common political and social alliance. of the layers that feel dissatisfied, the whole e.g. of the social strata who saw the “Yellow Vests” positively.

The context of social explosions and its difficult governance

Macron faced strong social reactions to his policies. It is a big question whether and to what extent he will be able to pass the measures he wants at a time when the social and economic landscape across Europe is deteriorating and where his own government will be caught in the crossfire.

In essence, the question is whether this contradictory political geometry will be transformed into a new cycle of great social struggles.

The fact that the formation supported by Macron will not have an absolute majority in the European Parliament opens a new page in terms of the exercise of power in France. Since no formation is prepared, at least in the first instance, to negotiate a comprehensive agreement with the government, it is clear that we are rather moving to a logic of continuous negotiation of every measure with the aim of forming an ad hoc majority.

But this will give all the variants of the opposition a strong opposition force and the ability to block choices. Of particular importance is the fact that on important issues the Bourne government will have to turn to the support of the Right and the Far Right, which would mean a corresponding shift in the overall political correlation to the right, at the same time that such choices could provoke great social reactions. And of course throughout this journey she will be constantly vulnerable to moves such as proposals of distrust.

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