The French face the legislative elections with the idea of ​​limiting Macron’s power | International

The French electoral carousel does not stop. Emmanuel Macron will barely have time to savor his victory: the campaign for the June legislative elections – more third round than ever – has already begun. It seems difficult for the re-elected president to obtain an absolute majority like that of five years ago. The French, including some of their voters, want to see Macron defeated and forced to “cohabit” with a hostile National Assembly and prime minister. Left and right alliances are being negotiated in a hurry.

There are only two polls, but both agree that the French do not want Macron to enjoy an easy second term. His Jupiterian presidency, vertical and personalistic, exercised at will thanks to an absolute majority in the National Assembly (308 of the 577 seats), is poorly valued by the voters.

63% of those surveyed, according to Opinionway, and 56%, according to Ipsos, prefer that the Assembly and the Government remain in the hands of Marine Le Pen (far right) or Jean-Luc Mélenchon (populist left). Almost 40% of those who voted for Macron in the second round also declare themselves in favor of “cohabitation” that drastically limits presidential powers.

For those wishes to have any chance of becoming reality, alliances must be formed, both to Macron’s right and to his left. Political forces have begun to talk to each other or formulate proposals through social networks. There is a hurry, because the vote is held on June 12 and 19. There are also many difficulties.

personal difficulties

On the extreme right, the difficulties are not programmatic. They are personal. Éric Zemmour, the polemicist who caused a split in the National Rally and presented himself as a candidate for president in the first round, in direct rivalry with Marine Le Pen, did not spare sarcasm during the vote count and recalled that the Le Pen family did not He did more than accumulate defeats.

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Immediately afterwards, however, he called for an “alliance between all the right wing, between the popular classes and the patriotic bourgeoisie.” The coalition between National Regroupment, Reconquest (Zemmour’s party) and a part of the traditional right is not for Zemmour “an option, but a necessity”. “Let’s forget our quarrels,” he claimed.

Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, the niece of Marine Le Pen who left with Zemmour, even exhibited a (very optimistic) estimate of the number of seats a reunified far-right would win. According to her, without a coalition already baptized as the National Union, the extreme right would not obtain more than 13 deputies, little more than the current seven, and would remain in a marginal position. The coalition, on the contrary, would reach according to his calculations – we must insist on optimism – 148 deputies. Maréchal-Le Pen spoke of “an immense responsibility” and the need to constitute the first opposition force in the Assembly as the only guarantee of “the salvation of France”.

This is what they say in the Zemmour camp, which only got 7% ​​of the vote. In the countryside lepenist show contempt for turncoats. “We are not going to lock ourselves into an alliance with Reconquista,” declared Jordan Bardella, president of Regrouping National and Marine Le Pen’s right-hand man. In reality, Le Pen wishes to crush Zemmour and the wayward niece and force Reconquista to disband. Marine Le Pen, like his father Jean-Marie Le Pen, has a hard time forgetting offenses. It cannot be ruled out, in any case, that electoral needs favor more pragmatic attitudes.

One of Jean-Luc Mèlenchon's posters on a Paris street on April 21.
One of Jean-Luc Mèlenchon’s posters on a Paris street on April 21. JOEL SAGET (AFP)

At the other end of the political spectrum, the founder and leader of France Insumisa, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, is willing to form a coalition of the left under the name of Popular Union. But Mélenchon, strengthened by his good result (21.9%) in the first round, demands that any approach be made under his conditions. With the Communist Party there should be no great difficulties. Europe Ecology The Greens also show a predisposition to avoid their differences with Mélenchon (related above all to the European Union and international politics) and to promote a union of the left in the legislative elections.

A dark outlook for socialists

And the Socialist Party? He has before him a dark panorama. Mélenchon refuses for the moment to negotiate with the socialists, or what remains of them, because he does not even consider them part of the left. PS First Secretary Olivier Faure is confident that the leader of France Insoumise will eventually grant them some space and a handful of seats. But Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris and great failure (1.7% of the votes) as a candidate for the presidency of the Republic, rejects any approach to the rebellious.

In The Republicans, almost as disarrayed as the Socialists, there is a risk of disbandment. Several senior officials who have not yet left with Emmanuel Macron consider that, following the advice of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, and given the result on Sunday, it is convenient to take advantage of the inclusion offer launched by the current president and integrate in some way into La République in March. Others trust that the territorial establishment of the party will allow them to maintain their own group and a minimum of parliamentary autonomy. The risk of a new split and of a virtual disappearance is high.

Ultimately, it is up to Emmanuel Macron to lead his forces towards a new victory. The most difficult. The République en Marche has not achieved a real territorial implantation in the past five years, and few of its deputies have carved out a profile of their own. In general, the candidates macronists they are perceived as simple delegates of the president. This helped the success in 2017, when Macron was generating enthusiasm. Now, given the paradoxical situation of a president who is both re-elected and highly unpopular, it could help the failure.

A second crop of Republican turncoats, people who know voters in each constituency well, and perhaps the recruitment of a popular socialist deputy in their area, would improve La République en Marche’s electoral prospects. An unstructured and ideologically undefined movement that needs to win. Otherwise, Emmanuel Macron, lacking a majority in the Assembly and with a prime minister opposed to his ideas, could become a lame duck during his second term.

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