|Vote Left, Get Right||
20 June 2022
Cogito Ergo Non Serviam
French President Emmanuel Macron lost his majority in the National Assembly with a rise in votes for the New Popular Union [Nupes], the left-wing bloc lead by Jean-Luc Melenchon. The right-of-center Republicains finished well, and the odious National Rally of far-right Marine Le Pen may have taken third place. The result will be a coalition or minority government. Many analysts say that this will create gridlock undermining France\'s ability to function. What most miss is that the rise of Nupes and the left will not result in a left-wing government. The most likely arrangement is a working majority with Macron\'s Emsemble and the Republicains.
The National Assembly has 577 seats, meaning a majority is 289. The French Interior Ministry states that Ensemble won 245 seats. While that is not a majority, it is near enough to lead. Nupes has 131, the National Rally 89 and the Republicains 61. Arithmetically, Ensemble could strike a deal with any of those three and govern. Working with Nupes is not going to happen for policy reasons. Inviting support from the National Rally is even less palatable. The Republicains, however, might be both acceptable and persuadable.
The Ensemble-Nupes arrangement is largely out of the question because there are some fundamental differences that cannot easily be bridged. For instance, Nupes wants a lower retirement age, and Ensemble says France cannot afford it.
"The presidential party\'s defeat is complete," Mr. Melenchon told cheering supporters in Paris. "We reached the political objective that we had set for ourselves." One doubts that finishing third was the objective, but stopping an Ensemble majority was enough.
That said, there is some doubt as to whether Nupes can hold together. Mr. Melechon stitched the bloc together out of various existing parties like the Communists and the Greens. The success of the alliance, however, suggests that some of the constituent parts of Nupes can form their own parliamentary organizations independent from Mr. Melenchon. There may be 131 Nupes deputies, but can he count on even half of them?
As for the National Rally, they outdid themselves. Ms. Le Pen said, "This group will be by far the largest in the history of our political family." That is troubling. France has always had an authoritarian streak to its body politic, e.g. Louis XIV and Napoleon. However, the National Rally is the most toxic version France has produced (the Vichy government notwithstanding). That it scored so well says something rather nasty about many French voters.
There is a silver lining to the NP result, although it is a tarnished one. More than half of French voters declined to vote. About 46% turned up, which is the second worst showing since 1958 and the birth of the Fifth Republic. The apathy of those people let the extremes succeed. They can be re-activated with some care and communication from the political class. They can undo the harm done just by showing up next time. Unfortunately, cynicism abounds.
In the end, this journal expects the Macron presidency to flail around trying to get a formal coalition with the Republicains, but it will have to settle for case-by-case support. The left, however, will only get attention from the government if it is more pragmatic. Mr. Melenchon has been called many things, but pragmatic doesn\'t make the list.
© Copyright 2022 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.