There was something surreal about the scene. Like the US President in the front Air Force OneEmmanuel Macron, on the tarmac of Orly airport, spoke to the press in front of the presidential plane before flying to Romania. A few days before the second round of the parliamentary elections, where his absolute majority in the National Assembly is at stake, the president called for a “Republican start” to, he said, “defend our institutions against anyone who challenges them and weaken”. However, the average voter wondered, if “we are at the moment of choice” and that “no vote from the Republic should be missing”, why the hell did the president take the plane instead of campaigning?
“Sketch à la Trump,” mocked Jean-Luc Mélenchon, whose New Popular, Ecologist and Socialist Alliance (NUPES) is likely to elect between 165 and 210 (out of 577) deputies, according to the latest poll. Not enough to exercise power or become prime minister, as his posters proclaim. After Sunday night’s victory, enthusiasm seems to have dwindled to the left for the few voting reserves available to her in the second round.
With 25% of the vote in the first round, the left had one of the worst results in a legislature. She is even several points below her presidential score. Nevertheless, the leader of the Insoumis, the only one really campaigning, appears to be about to elect the main contingent of opposition delegates to the National Assembly. These must be figures known for their controversial statements and regular calls to take to the streets, such as Raquel Garrido, Danièle Obono and Alexis Corbière.
Macron as warlord
Emmanuel Macron leaves for Romania on Tuesday and returns to Paris from Thursday to Friday. He has chosen to move purely and simply over this second round, which is taking place in an atmosphere of democratic apathy rarely seen in parliamentary elections. In the political class, we suspect the president of repeating the presidential election recipe and donning his warlord costume for the sole purpose of making himself great and avoiding campaigning.
Will the results prove him right? Still according to Opinion Way, the presidential party, renamed Together, is expected to win between 275 and 305 seats. The majority is 289, so nothing at this point gives him the assurance that he will be able to rule alone, as has been the case for the past five years. That is the ambivalence of these presidential elections, as according to another poll by Odoxa Backbone Consulting, 70% of French people do not want him to win an absolute majority on Sunday. Elected to “block” populist right candidate Marine Le Pen, the president appears to be “paying” the legislature for this lack of mobilization around his own program.
“The French voted for Emmanuel Macron by default,” writes the editor-in-chief of the Review of two worlds, Valerie Toranian. “The score of the [NUPES] and the Rassemblement National in parliamentary elections is a way to influence their vote. With a blank check for Jupiter. We don’t want another five-year reign, locked in an ivory tower. That is the meaning of this desire to live together, which was expressed shortly after the presidential elections. †
It remains to be seen whether this wish will be reflected in the polls on Sunday or simply through a historic abstention, as was the case in the first round (53%). One thing is certain, since they are held right after the presidential elections, we have never seen a president fail to score better in the parliamentary elections.
“The house is on fire and Emmanuel Macron is looking elsewhere. To imagine him on a train bound for Ukraine this morning, when the far left is a hyper-threatening to our country, is madness,” said the mayor of Meaux, Jean-François Copé, a supporter of a “pact” between Les Républicains and Together The concern is all the more real because several heads of government, such as the deputy of the minister responsible for Europe, Clément Beaune, and that of energy transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, risk resigning in case of defeat. Even if she’s in no danger in her Calvados constituency, the prime minister, Élisabeth Borne, could go down in history as the worst elected of all the USe Republic.
There is a lot of speculation about the compromises that the president will have to make with a relative majority. He will first have to seek the support of his natural allies, François Bayrou, of the MoDem, and Édouard Philippe, of the Horizon party. We know that relations between the president and his former prime minister are not looking good. As if that weren’t enough, Emmanuel Macron could be forced to negotiate an agreement with Les Républicains, turning them into ‘kingmakers’. Despite a meeting at Élysée with the dean of LR, Senator Gérard Larcher, the leaders of LR have been denying the possibility of an agreement all week.
As a final option, the government could decide to navigate by sight, forging temporary alliances on a case-by-case basis, right or left. This is what François Mitterrand did from 1988 to 1991, when his Prime Minister was Michel Rocard.
Even if the fact seems to go unnoticed, this election is far from a failure for the National Rally. Not only should he form a parliamentary group in the Assembly for the first time, but his score is up 5.5% from 2017.
We know next to nothing about the president’s agenda, except that he is preparing to launch the work of the National Council for Refoundation on June 22. Described by the opposition as a “gadget”, a “masquerade” and a “big talk”, this consultative body has to work on key reforms over the five-year term. The initials are intended as an undisguised allusion to the famous National Resistance Council which, in the middle of the war, had prepared the major institutional reform that followed the Liberation.
End of reign melodies
Emmanuel Macron’s second term has only just begun and he already looks like the end of his reign. The interval between the two rounds was marked by the scandal of ferocious attacks at the Stade de France. Three weeks after her appointment, the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, who would lead this campaign between the two rounds, went on to support no candidate and appears inaudible. The thunderous voice of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, although outnumbered in the polls, had no trouble taking up almost all the space in the media.
“France will be very difficult to rule,” political scientist Jérôme Fourquet concluded in the Figaro Magazine† “We could get a second fixed term of five years, like Jacques Chirac’s between 2002 and 2007,” he said. One of the reasons for concern is the bleak economic outlook, although no one in this campaign has said anything about it. Not to mention that the president won’t be able to run for re-election in five years and his succession will be on the agenda soon.