The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has suffered this Sunday a severe corrective in the legislative elections in France, according to the first projections at the closing of the polling stations. The macronista coalition, Ensemble, although it will have more deputies than the rest, is far from the absolute majority and loses 100 or more seats to keep a range of between 210 and 250, according to the Ifop institute.
In second position, with between 150 and 180 seats, would be the New Popular Ecological and Social Union (NUPES), the alliance of left-wing populists, socialists, environmentalists and communists led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon. In addition to the collapse of Macron and the emergence of the left as the main opposition force, the other novelty of the electoral night is the rise of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN), which goes from eight deputies to between 80 and 100, according to the same projection.
Abstention, according to projections, is around 54%, one and a half points more than in the first round, last Sunday, but 3.4 points less than in the second round of 2017. As they are projections, these results may vary as the count progresses, but those of Ifop coincide, broadly speaking, with those of other institutes.
If they are confirmed, France will enter a new political era, after a five-year period in which, with an absolute majority of 345 out of 577 deputies, Macron has been able to govern comfortably and the National Assembly has limited itself, in most cases. , to give the go-ahead to the initiatives of a president who has concentrated all powers. The French send a signal to Macron after re-electing him for five more years in April: they want to impose limits on his power. He will no longer be able to rule alone.
If the final result coincides with the lower part of the range of deputies given by the projections, it is not even clear that Ensemble can reach an absolute majority with an alliance with the moderate right of Los Republicanos (LR). According to Ifop, LR will have between 60 and 70 deputies. It is unknown territory for French politics in recent times, a correlation of parliamentary forces without a dominant party or a majority that will force consensus and compromise.
The National Assembly will reflect, more faithfully than ever before, the tripartite scheme —centre, radical left and extreme right— that has dominated French politics since Macron seized power in 2017. Anti-system voices will be heard more and will carry greater weight in parliamentary life. And social discontent will be reflected in the hemicycle.
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In France, at the same time, a period without elections is inaugurated, until the European ones in 2024. An electoral cycle that began in 2019 precisely with the European ones, continued in 2020 with the municipal ones, in 2021 with the regional ones and in 2022 with the the presidential ones that Macron won, and the legislative ones. They have been elections marked by the revolt of the yellow vests, the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
In each of these elections, abstention has broken records, or has been close. The French were already beginning to feel electoral fatigue. Now they come two years without going through the polls.
The race to succeed Macron in 2027 has begun and the outcome of the legislative elections could undermine his authority. Macron cannot run for a third term in a row. Among his allies, former Prime Minister Édouard Philippe — today leader of the new Horizons party — and current Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, do not hide his ambitions.
Another unknown: what will become of Mélenchon, the undisputed leader of the new left and one of the winners of these elections, but who was not a candidate in these legislative elections and, therefore, is left without the speaker of the seat in the National Assembly.
In the first round, on June 12, Ensemble got 25.75% of the votes. NUPES, 25.66%. The campaign was staged as a duel between Macron and Mélenchon. Macron presented Ensemble as the party of order and warned that a victory for the Mélenchonists would mean “adding French disorder to world disorder.” “Chaos is Macron!” Mélenchon replied.
Macron’s priority is the approval, in the National Assembly, of the plan to protect the purchasing power of the French against inflation. In autumn it will be the turn of the most complicated reform of it, postponed in the first five years after weeks of strikes and demonstrations and the arrival of covid. It is about the pension reform, which should bring the retirement age from the current 62 years to 64 or 65 years.
The left has campaigned with a program to reduce the retirement age to 60, raise the minimum wage to 1,500 euros per month and block the prices of basic necessities. Each member party of NUPES should have its own parliamentary group. The risk is that, given the differences between pro-Europeans and eurosceptics or between supporters of the free market and anti-capitalists, the alliance ends up fracturing.
The new legislature, the XVI, will be officially inaugurated on June 28 with the election of the president of the National Assembly and the formation of the groups. Meanwhile, and as long as it is confirmed that Ensemble is the most voted formation, Macron must remodel the Government formed in May after the presidential elections.
In July Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne, if she remains in office, could deliver the so-called general policy speech before Parliament and request a vote of confidence. With the new National Assembly, she will not have it as easy as her predecessors.