PARIS.– Barely out of the darkroom of the presidential election, French voters will have to return in a few weeks. For those who won as for those who lost, June 12 and 19 will be the opportunity to allow President Emmanuel Macron to establish his victory or the opposition of the radical left or the extreme right takes revenge. Therein lies the crucial importance of this appeal “third round”, the outcome of which could revolutionize the political landscape of the next five years.
Even if it is still too early to plan for June, one thing is certain: the political context of 2017 is far away and the new electoral nomination seems less comfortable for Emmanuel Macron. The French system, where legislative elections closely follow presidential elections, is historically favorable to the elected president. But this is the first time since 2002 that a president has won a second term, and there is evidence that a freshly arrived president and a president for several years do not command the same support. In the case of Macron, who once again clashed with the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, the problem is twofold, because part of the electorate voted more “against” their adversary than “for” them. Therefore, this will not guarantee a good transfer of votes in favor of the president’s party, La República en Marcha (LREM).
“The validation mechanism, these legislative which are a kind of honeymoon for the new president, will be less systematic this year“, confirms the political scientist Brice Tinturier.
On the LREM field, they fear a possible “puzzle” majority. In other words: a group of deputies made up of macronists (LREM) and other centrists (Modem, Agir) too fragile to support the projects and bills decided by the government. A much more fragmented Assembly, where no group would obtain a clear majority, forced to practice a radically different policy. Less bipartisan and with more exchanges between parties: “After these elections, the French parliamentary majority will have to adopt a much more conciliatory position, seek compromises, find a consensus”says the political scientist Roland Cayrol.
In 2017, LREM obtained 43.06% of the votes and 306 deputies. That is an absolute majority (289 seats out of a total of 577). A score impressive —despite strong abstention— which today seems very difficult to match.
“An LREM majority seems much less likely,” warns Cayrol. “But it would be worse if the president’s party fell below 289 seats. From 2017 to 2022, the Macronist ranks in the Assembly weakened: the group fell to 267 deputies. The dynamics of 2022 will be different”, he adds. However, for Dominique Reynie, “It is almost certain that Macron will obtain the majority, but with a ‘vaporized’ right-wing government. Many right-wing deputies – in particular Republicans (LR), the neo-Gaullist party founded by former President Nicolas Sarkozy – could join his movement in the coming days, ”he analyzes.
In the camp of the vanquished, there is also extreme agitation around the legislative elections. After a disappointing result in 2017, but with the entry of eight far-right deputies into the Assembly, the party of Marine Le Pen is preparing to do battle. The leader of the National Rally (RN) should face two difficulties: not only will there be no dynamic around the loser, but her electorate, easily mobilized for the presidential election, is historically much less enthusiastic about the idea. to evolve in the legislative. those. . On another side, Eric Zemour, the other French ultranationalist candidate, could destabilize the RN by presenting its own candidates, in case they do not reach an alliance agreement, as the president of Reconquista proposed on Sunday. For Jean-Yves Camus, far-right specialist at the Jean-Jaurès Foundation, the momentum that began in 2017 is very likely to intensify: “Republicans will be increasingly divided between a pro-European liberal centrist branch (represented by Nicolas Sarkozy), tempted by Macron, and another, led by Eric Ciotti, LR deputy for the Alpes-Maritimes, who is leaning more and more towards the far right”.
For his part, the French left he seems to have been left at the mercy of the far left France Insumisa (LFI). The goal of their leader, Jean-Luc Melenchonwho dreams of living together, is ambitious: “I ask the French to elect me Prime Minister,” he said after narrowly missing the first-round ballot with 21.95% of the vote. How? Obtaining the majority in the June legislative elections. For ecologists, communists, socialists and others, it is almost obligatory to note that it will be very difficult for the left to regain its strike force without LFI and its extravagant leader. For the Socialist Party (PS), for example, closing the door to the third man in the elections would probably mean the death sentence for a party exhausted after the first round, where its candidate, the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, did not obtained only 1.7% of the votes.
“The third round starts tonight”, Mélenchon promised Sunday evening, the results hardly known. “Another world is possible if you elect a majority of deputies from the new People’s Union (union of the left), which must be enlarged,” he said.
In any case, at the time of the negotiations, each of the minority parties will naturally be torn between the desire to exist on its own, at the risk of losing everything—party financing depends largely on legislative elections—and the desire to ally with a formation better placed to govern. Under these conditions, the internal fighting promises to be arduous over the coming weeks. And its consequences could even overturn the result of the presidential elections.