Today is May 8, 2022. It’s an important date because it’s a commemoration of the end of second world war.
We are also two weeks after the second round of the French presidential elections, and the picture is getting a lot clearer. The three major pillars that emerged from the presidential elections are now setting their strategies, and it’s quite obvious for everyone to understand.
On the left side of the political spectrum, most political parties are joining forces under a single banner called the New Popular Ecological and Social Union with a logo V.
On the right side of the political spectrum, the Rassemblement National is pulling all forces under its far right umbrella, tearing apart the traditional right-wing political landscape so far dominated by Les Républicains.
And in the middle, the winner of the election, Emmanuel Macron, is also pulling together the political forces in the center right and center left in addition to his own party, so far called La République En Marche.
So that’s the state of the affairs prior to the legislative elections in 5 weeks. Broadly speaking, the presidential election seems to have revealed a growing demand for more radical programs despite Emmanuel Macron’s victiry. That trend is polarizing the political spectrum on the left and the right with the winner, Macron, trying to create a compromise in the middle.
On the left side of the political spectrum, the field is now occupied by Jean-Luc Mélenchon. After the second round of the elections in April, he managed to coalesce a union around him of French left-wing political parties. It took 13 days for the new coalition V to take shape.
The Ecologists, mainly Europe Écologie Les Verts, had only reached 4.63% in the first round. It makes them the most important partner within the new coalition, since the French Communist Party and the Socialist Party had only reached 4% altogether.
Despite some serious disagreements regarding major points in their respective platforms, for example the European Union dimension, or Energy policies, all members of the coalition agreed to join forces and present joint candidacies for the 2022 general elections or legislative elections.
For the time being, it is agreed that these disagreements would be put on the shelf. All parties understand that winning a majority at the National Assembly remains the most important goal for the time being.
That majority stands at 290 seats and it could force the newly re-elected President Macron to appoint Jean-Luc Mélenchon as Prime Minister, or head of government.
That majority of 290 seats is also what President Macron wants to maintain. At present, his majority at the National Assembly stands at 346 seats. That’s a very comfortable margin of maneuver and it has allowed Emmanuel Macron, during these last 5 years, to expedite a lot of uneasy decisions without really leaving any opportunity to the opposition to challenge them.
The renewal of such a comfortable majority remains however very uncertain, given the results of the presidential election. Indeed, political analysts continue to be divided about it. Traditional parties made up of the socialist party and right-wing Les Républicains have managed to remain in the opposition with 28 seats for the Socialists and 101 seats for Les Républicains. During the ending legislature, they still managed to exist but minimally. They managed to reassure themselves after results at more local elections like mayoral elections, regional elections and county elections. Yet, they managed to keep major cities or regions mainly thanks to the high abstention.
In French politics, these presidential, general elections and local elections are like in the Champions League and Europa League in the European Championship. Everyone wants to win the Champions League. Some remain happy with the less prestigious Europa Cup while the even less prestigious Europa League Conference Cup is left to even less ambitious candidates.
As a result, a minority within these traditional parties (Socialists and Les Républicains) still hope they can achieve good results in June, thanks to the traditional local ties they have nurtured over the last few decades. Such traditional local connections do not exist yet for Macron’s party and Jean-Luch Mélenchon’s La France Insoumise. Their political organizations are still too recent and have not had the necessary time to meticulously build the fragile network of connections one village at a time in the countryside, one neighborhood at a time in larger cities or suburbs.
So these general elections appear to be a major turning point, because it will reveal if that transition is confirmed from traditional local parties to these new formations at a more local level.
There are however some exceptions regarding that transition from traditional to newer formations. First with the Ecologists or the Greens, who managed to gain major cities at the last mayoral elections, like in Lyon, Bordeaux or Grenoble. The other exception is with the Rassemblement National whose local connections are very strong and have benefitted from a continuous grassroot strengthening. Marine Le Pen’s results at the last presidential elections have reached very high levels in the country-side and suburban areas. These results could generate a higher influx of new members of parliament in June. With a higher demand for radical measures on the topic of immigration, many local right wing politicians could be tempted to jump the line and run under the banner of the Rassemblement National. But Marine Le Pen’s goal is very different from Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s aspiration. For her, the key role is to appear as the only leading figure in the opposition to the President. That would allow her to pave the way for the next presidential election in 5 years.
So these are the tectonic plates of French politics for the next few weeks.
That’s what I wanted to share with you.
Let me know if you have questions and I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Feel free to comment.