Is this the end of Macronism?

After 7 year of Macronism in France, half of the voters will vote for populist, radical and extremist parties.

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The National Rally (RN, populist right) obtaining an absolute majority in the early legislative elections called by President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday evening, shortly after the polls closed in the European Parliament elections, no longer seems a fanciful hypothesis. The first polls measuring the vote intention confirm this.

The right-wing parties had 46,73% in the last European elections

The RN came first in the European elections with 31.37%, but if we also add the percentages of the parties La France Insoumise (LFI, radical left) 9.89% and Reconquete! (REC, extreme right) 5.47%, we have 46,73% and 44 MEPs out of the 81 to which France is entitled in the European Parliament.

The four “republican” (or democratic and moderate) parties – Renaissance (centre, pro-presidential) 14.6%, Socialist Party (PSF) 13.83%, Republicans (LR, centre-right) 7.25 % and the Greens (EELV) only add up to 41.18% and 37 MEPs.

President Macron routinely calls the RN, with its de facto leader Marine Le Pen, and the REC, led by Eric Zemmour, far-right, and in a press conference he qualified the LFI (founded by Jean-Luc Melenchon, presidential candidate of three times) right-wing extremist. If we also add the percentages of parties officially qualified by the Ministry of the Interior as extremists (two from the right and six from the left) we reach a total of 48.38%, with several other small parties included in the “miscellaneous” category that could be added, in short, in the European parliamentary elections, half of the French electorate present at the polls voted in favour of a party that can be called right-wing or left-wing extremist.

Macron does not want to have an extreme-right government

In yesterday’s press conference, President Macron declared that he did not want to give the keys to the power to the extreme right. But what else could he do if the RN wins an absolute majority, especially since it is now favoured by the two-round first-past-the-post electoral system that has consistently disadvantaged them for the past 40 years?

Le Pen said she was not interested in the post of prime minister and proposed the party’s president, 28-year-old Jordan Bardella. What a cohabitation between President Macron and Prime Minister Bardella with a majority in the National Assembly will look like is hard to imagine.

There would also be the alternative in which the RN does not obtain an absolute majority, in which case the formation of a government becomes practically impossible because the alliance of the left – the New Popular Front (NFP – PSF, LFI, the Greens and the Communist Party) and Ensemble will never accept to collaborate with RN. A recent opinion poll showed that in the event of a (predictable) failure of President Macron’s partisans in the legislative elections on June 30 and July 7, 57% of voters would favour the resignation of the head of state. In that case, who else but Le Pen would be the favourite in the presidential election?

But how did it get here? In 2017 Macron ran for the presidency supported by En Marche, a new group, wanting to dynamite the old regime of the Fifth Republic, with the left-right alternation in power. He succeeded and at the same time blocked Le Pen’s path to power.

In the five years that followed, President Macron, supported by an absolute majority in the National Assembly, tried to introduce radical reforms, some would even say too radical, but ran into traditional resistance in French public opinion and had the misfortune of the COVID-19 pandemic, the War in Ukraine and the cost of living crisis.

In 2022, Macron was re-elected, again blocking the path to power for Le Pen. Still, in the legislative election, his partisans did not obtain an absolute majority in the National Assembly. Then the government had to rely on the assumption of responsibility in Parliament and the abstention of the LR to the repeated motions of censure that followed.

President Macron and his government have pushed through the pension reform, the main measure being the raising of the retirement age from 62 to 64, which sparked huge street protests in the first part of the year and dealt a heavy political blow to the head of state and confederation centrist who supports him in parliament.

What exactly is the Macronism?

The European Parliament poll was a life-size poll that showed the unpopularity of President Macron and the political current that some call Macronism. But what exactly is Macronism? When he was a presidential candidate in 2017, Macron used in all his speeches an expression that became famous and more recently used by others as a sign of derision: “en même temps – at the same time”, a paradoxical formulation by which he tried to present seemingly compatible political positions irreconcilable.

And for a while, this worked: the new presidential party attracted politicians from the right (LR) and the left (PSF – Macron himself had been finance minister under Socialist President Francois Hollande), but over time President Macron slipped more and more to right-wing, especially from an economic and social point of view and promoted right-wing people in the government, of which the minister of the interior, Gerald Darmanin, stands out. This is how he came to be seen as a “president of the rich”, which was also seen in the recent European Parliament election, where Ensemble achieved the best results in the prosperous careers of the big cities, coming in first place in the rich districts in the west of Paris.

On the other hand, RN has renounced not only the ultra-aggressive rhetoric of Jean Marie Le Pen, the leader of the National Front (the predecessor of the RN) and the father of the current leader but also some of his policies.

The political reality in France today is unprecedented in the 65 years of the Fifth Republic created by Charles de Gaulle: the second largest country in the European Union and the only one with nuclear power is on the verge of electing a parliamentary majority of a party considered extremist, with an ambiguous attitude, if not hostile to the EU and NATO and rather friendly towards Putin’s Russia or to elect a National Assembly without a majority from which the formation of a government will be impossible, given that President Macron no longer may resort to a new dissolution in the next 12 months.

This political situation in France should be a cause for concern not only in the EU but also in the entire democratic world, at a time when it just didn’t need it.

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