Espreso. Global
OPINION

French elections see victory for leftists... and Macron

9 July, 2024 Tuesday
15:15

The headquarters of Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Rally bloc, has been awash with champagne all week

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The fact is that her political force achieved an unexpected victory in the first round of the French parliamentary elections held on June 30. Her representatives received 33.4% of the eligible voters. So in the second round a week later, Le Pen simply aimed to solidify this success by storming into the French parliament with an absolute majority. A week ago, second place went to the left-wing New People's Front of Jean-Luc Melenchon. The clear loser a week ago was the current French president, Emmanuel Macron. His political bloc En Marche! took third place.

Immediately after the vote was over, it became clear that this situation could be catastrophic for France, as far-right politicians with their often populist and sometimes quite dangerous ideas could come to power in the country with a possible absolute majority.

So the camps of Mr. Melenchon's leftists and President Macron's centrists began to act. Both political forces began to actively withdraw candidates who were clearly unelectable.

The significance of this step is quite clear. First, such people had no chance of getting into parliament on their own. And secondly, they took votes away from representatives of other political forces who could have competed for a parliamentary seat, thus allowing the far-right from Marine Le Pen's party to gain entry. All week long, the headquarters of President Macron and Jean-Luc Melenchon did exactly that: they retained the candidates who had every chance of winning.

The result of such actions was not long in coming. Some people call what happened on Sunday, July 7, a surprise. But in fact, it was a real sensation. In the second round of elections to the lower house of the French parliament, Melenchon's left-wing New People's Front won in a sensational manner.

According to official voting results, representatives of this political force secured 182 seats in the session hall. Next is Emmanuel Macron's presidential coalition En Marche! with 168 seats. But the far-right National Rally of Marine Le Pen is in third place, having slipped from first place in the first round of elections. They will have only 143 representatives in the country's parliament. That is, the plan to withdraw 'unelectable' candidates worked.

This election result is acceptable to the vast majority of French people. They want to live in a country governed by clear parties with clear political views. The French chose tranquility in the election over the chaos that could have resulted from a potential victory of the far-right National Rally.

This outcome is also acceptable for Europe. After the success of the far-right in the European Parliament elections, Brussels did not want a powerful far-right force to triumph in France. For example, here's how Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk commented on the French election results on his page on the microblogging network X: "There is enthusiasm in Paris, disappointment in Moscow, and relief in Kyiv. It is enough to be happy in Warsaw." A similar opinion was expressed by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during a press conference in Berlin: "I and the entire federal government are relieved. It would have been a huge challenge if the French president had to interact with a right-wing populist party.”

Indeed, there is a sense of disappointment in the Kremlin. In Moscow, just as in Marine Le Pen's bloc after the first round of voting, champagne flowed. It's hard to imagine the disappointment that reigns in the long Kremlin corridors now. Putin was betting on the French far right. He even helped them win because in this way he could really influence decision-making in Europe. Thus, the world's greatest criminal had a real chance to split the unity of Europe. But it did not happen as expected.

And Kyiv truly breathed a sigh of relief. Le Pen's victory could have meant only one thing for us: less support. Moreover, France could have even ceased to provide us with extremely important weapons, such as SCALP missiles. Yes, Marine Le Pen condemned Russian aggression, but she constantly called for President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the leader of the terrorist country Putin to be brought to the negotiating table. Therefore, her defeat is a kind of victory for us.

In fact, with the left's victory, French support for Ukraine should not change. If it does not increase, it will certainly remain at the current level.

I just think that now President Emmanuel Macron may speak less about the possible deployment of French troops to Ukraine. In addition, foreign policy, including support for Ukraine, will still be determined by the current occupant of the Elysee Palace.

It is also noteworthy that Emmanuel Macron has already rejected the resignation of his Prime Minister Gabriel Attal. He asked the head of the government to remain in office temporarily to "ensure stability in the country.”

But what will happen next in France? In fact, a lengthy "coalition" process may begin. Since no single party has garnered enough support to form a coalition on its own, negotiations with others will be necessary. Obviously, no one is likely to collaborate with Marine Le Pen, as she was the one they aimed to depose. The left is also unlikely to reach an agreement with the center, especially considering the personal animosity that has developed between Emmanuel Macron and Jean-Luc Melenchon. Therefore, one of the small groups that entered parliament may determine the fate of the coalition and France as a whole. However, the identity of this group remains unknown at present.

Specifically for Espreso

About the author. Yuriy Fizer, journalist, TV presenter, international commentator.

The editors don't always share the opinions expressed by the authors of the blogs.

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