French politics is starting to look a lot like the Italian version with growing fragmentation, the eclipse of traditional centrist parties on the right and left, and the prospect of snap elections constantly on the political radar.
After winning the French presidency quite comfortably about two months ago, President Emmanuel Macron was humiliated by the French electorate in the legislative elections, where he saw his Together the alliance lose 30% of their seats. Although still the strongest group in the National Assembly, Macron’s alliance does not have an active majority. This means they will have to compromise with left and right parties to push through any substantive legislation.
The French legislative elections have confirmed certain political tendencies which are becoming more pronounced throughout the EU. The electorate decimated the traditional centre-right and centre-left parties, making way for far-right and far-left populist parties to fill the void left by the traditional parties.
The once proud Socialist Party must now play second fiddle, as Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a demagogue, is now in unquestionable control of the center-left parties.
The conservative The Republicans have lost ground to the far right Gathering National led by Marine Le Pen, who won 34% of the vote in the presidential second round. Le Pen’s party increased its seats from eight in the last parliamentary elections in 2017 to 89 today.
Political analysts attempt to identify the causes of this vast transformation of the French political landscape. The obsession of the major traditional European parties to appeal to what they perceive as the middle classes is beginning to show that this is no longer a guarantee of electoral success. Moreover, the result of the French elections is a repudiation of Macron’s top-down mode of government.
It remains to be seen whether he now has the negotiating skills to implement some of his reforms by concluding agreements with the far-right and far-left parties in the National Assembly. Many observers wonder if the election results will make France ungovernable, with opposition parties opposing everything and making it impossible to govern the country.
The party of abstainers is growing in practically all EU countries
When Macron was first elected president in 2017, many called him a reformist liberal politician who would shake the French political system out of its slumber to enact much-needed social and economic reform. by Macron Together The alliance in 2017 included many highly educated and middle-class MPs who were widely seen by the electorate as the ideal catalysts to promote political change.
The new parliament will have more workers sitting on the benches of the Assembly. Mélenchon’s France Insoumise party includes new MP Rachel Keke, a hotel maid. She led a long union strike over working conditions in an Ibis hotel on the outskirts of Paris.
Political parties often make the mistake of believing that political reform is about projecting an image of youth and diversity in their frontline personalities to gain the trust of the electorate.
High absenteeism in French elections is further confirmation that many people have lost faith in traditional politicians. It’s not just a French phenomenon. The party of abstentionists is growing in practically all EU countries. Many voters resent the feeling of being taken for granted by politicians who excel at rhetoric but are unable to improve their lives.
Some may now consider Macron to be a lame president for the next five years. His reform agenda, including much-needed change to the state pension system, could be stalled if opposition parties fail to buy into his reforms. He can bet to restore his shaken authority by calling new elections in two years. Yet early polls carry a risk of further erosion of his popularity.
While the last legislative elections decimated Macron’s authority, France’s role in European affairs remains crucial. The great French daily The ParisianThe front page of France on the state of France the day after the holding of the second and last round of the legislative elections was “Ungovernable! This label could easily apply to the state of the European Union.
The EU continues to stumble from crisis to crisis, with member states bickering and using their veto power to block reforms and win more concessions for their countries. The current geopolitical turmoil presents an existential threat to the Union which is constantly at odds over a reform agenda to ensure it remains a global political and economic heavyweight.
A lame French president is not what France and the EU need right now.
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