43 views 8 mins 0 comments

Macron hopes to contain far right in national elections after it surged in EU vote. It’s a risky bet

In World
June 10, 2024

The far right’s surge in France in elections for the European Parliament was widely expected. What came next was not.

French President Emmanuel Macron called snap legislative elections, saying he could not ignore the new political reality after his pro-European party was handed a chastening defeat and projected to garner less than half the support of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally.

He hopes that voters will band together to contain the far right in national elections in a way they didn’t in European ones.

But Sunday’s decision to dissolve parliament and send to the polls voters who just expressed their discontent with Macron’s politics was a risky move that could result in the French far right leading a government for the first time since World War II.

Macron, who has three years left on his second and final presidential term, would then have to find a way to work with a prime minister from a party that deeply opposes most of his policies.

Here is a look at the reasons behind the move.

How did French voters cast their ballots?

The far-right National Rally, led by 28-year-old Jordan Bardella, is projected to win the most French seats in the European Parliament, potentially as many as 30 of France’s 81, with a provisional count showing them with more than 30% of France’s vote.

That would be the culmination of a rebranding campaign that sought to appeal to moderate voters following decades of racist, antisemitic statements by leaders of the party then known as the National Front.

Macron’s Renaissance party has less than 15%, according to the latest estimates — just ahead of the Socialists, whom the French president thought he had managed to obliterate from the political scene when he was first elected president in 2017.

The leftist France Unbowed party could finish in fourth place with around 10% of the vote, and the conservative Républicains about 7%.

Why did Macron call a French election?

Macron’s centrist party was the biggest in the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, though it lost its majority in 2022, forcing lawmakers to work with politicians on the left and the right to pass bills.

In the face of the far right’s crushing victory at the European elections, Macron called the election because he otherwise feared the results would lead to paralysis in the legislature and leave him a lame duck leader three years before the next presidential election in 2027, his advisors have said.

The National Assembly president, Yaël Braun-Pivet, also said the president wanted to show he was responsive to voters. “We are told too often that we do not hear, that we are cut off from the people, and there, the president took a decision following a very clear vote by the French,” Braun-Pivet said on Monday.

What are the risks?

French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné said Macron’s decision to call elections is not “a poker move.” But with a deeply divided left and millions of voters no longer frightened by National Rally’s policies, betting on a popular surge against the far right three weeks before the balloting looks like a high-stakes bid.

The National Rally, with its anti-immigration agenda, is now well established and represents the largest parliamentary opposition group in the lower house of the parliament. Le Pen made it twice to the second round of the presidential elections after her father Jean-Marie Le Pen did it in 2002. The normalization strategy has paid off following and the party has become mainstream, developing a strong network of officials across France.

Can Macron depend on the left to help him?

The two-round system for the general elections has historically made it difficult for extremist parties to gain ground because mainstream parties work together to isolate those on the fringes. But that strategy may not work this time. In the last general election, Le Pen’s National Rally secured more than 10 times the seats it won five years before.

Far-left politician Francois Ruffin called on all leaders from the left, including the Greens, to unite under a single “Popular Front” banner. “To avoid the worse, to win,” he wrote on social platform X. Others on the left suggested similar cooperation.

Still, Raphaël Glucksmann, the lead Socialist candidate, accused Macron of caving into the National Rally’s calls for a dissolution of the National Assembly. He said the move “will remain a stain on Emmanuel Macron’s five-year term, one more,” and blamed the French president for what he sees as an “extremely dangerous” game.

Le Pen is riding high

Le Pen said she is “ready to turn the country around” after sending Macron into the the ropes.

“We are ready to exercise power if the French people place their trust in us in these future legislative elections,” she told party supporters in Paris.

For years Le Pen has been the face of the National Rally. But she took a step back at the European elections, making way for Bardella. The president of Le Pen’s party has now led it to the gates of power.

Bardella had a quick rise to the top after honing his political skills as the president of the party’s youth wing. Although he has been careful not to overshadow Le Pen, his popularity his growing fast, especially among young people.

On the campaign trail, Bardella was often treated to rock-star welcomes, with swarms of screaming fans hoping to get the chance to kiss him or leave with a selfie.

What’s next?

If another party, or a coalition, gets a majority of seats at the general election, Macron will be forced to appoint a prime minister belonging to that new majority.

In such a situation — called “cohabitation” in France — the government would implement domestic policies that diverge from the president’s plan. The French president would have sway, however, over the country’s foreign and defense policy. Such an arrangement could make France almost ungovernable.

EMEA Tribune is not involved in this news article, it is taken from our partners and or from the News Agencies. Copyright and Credit go to the News Agencies, email news@emeatribune.com Follow our WhatsApp verified Channel210520-twitter-verified-cs-70cdee.jpg (1500×750)

Support Independent Journalism with a donation (Paypal, BTC, USDT, ETH)
whatsapp channel
Avatar
/ Published posts: 32982

The latest news from the News Agencies