France shakes Europe, by Lluís Uría
Europe has not received a similar scare from France for seventeen years. On May 29, 2005, the referendum called by then President Jacques Chirac to approve the draft European Constitution it ended with a complete defeat for the pro-Europeans: the treaty was rejected by almost 55% of the French and the European construction suffered a severe halt. Last night’s result of the second round of the French legislative elections, with the loss of the absolute majority of President Emmanuel Macron, who remains with 245 or 246 of the 577 seats at stake (according to different counts), and the rise of the Eurosceptic forces, it is a comparable earthquake.
In the hectic campaign of the 2005 referendum in France, a name stood out until then practically unknown, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who led -along with former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius- a group of dissidents from the Socialist Party who, contravening the official position of the party , made propaganda in favor of no.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a member of the left wing of the PS, which he had joined in 1976 and for which he was a senator and minister, ended up abandoning his militancy in 2008 in disagreement with the theses that triumphed at the Reims congress – which advocated seek lines in agreement with the centrists – and founded the Left Party, the embryo of what has become today the central force of the French left.
Mélenchon’s spectacular advance in the presidential elections in April, where he came third with almost 22% of the votes, was crowned last night in the second round of the legislative elections, in which the coalition formed by socialists, communists and ecologists has carried between 131 and 142 seats, becoming the second group (albeit somewhat disparate) in the National Assembly.
Marine Le Pen’s triumph
The extreme right obtains a historic representation in the National Assembly
The other great winner of the night, even more so than Mélenchon, was the leader of the National Rally (RN), Marine Le Pen, who for the first time has managed to translate her success in the presidential elections into legislative elections (in which she was second place in 2017 and now in 2002). With 89 deputies, the French extreme right had never obtained such representation (not even in the particular elections of 1986, in which François Mitterrand, to weaken the right, introduced proportional scrutiny)
Last night’s result indicates that Le Pen has definitively broken the wall imposed by the two-round majority system – which penalized her, like all minority parties – and has sent the call republican front, which systematically blocked his path, to the trunk of memories. The extreme right has normalized and has come to stay.
Last night’s result greatly weakens Macron, who will be forced to rely – if they are allowed and it will be necessary to see at what price – on the remnants of the former main right-wing party, the Republicans, who with between 61 and 64 deputies acquire a hinge paper that they had never even dreamed of. And it is that the fragmentation of the parliament with the appearance of three or four blocks -instead of the traditional two- has destroyed the architecture of the Fifth Republic founded by De Gaulle.
The weakness of Macron, the main champion of European construction, called to set himself up as the natural leader of the Union -given the inhibition shown by the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz-, represents a blow to the EU. All the more so since his executioners, from the radical left and the extreme right, are militant eurosceptics.
It is true that Mélenchon’s heterogeneous left-wing coalition, the New Popular Ecologist and Social Union (Nupes), which will also break up into various groups in the Assembly, is far from sharing the same Europhobia as its leader. But it is no less true that his has been the dominant discourse, while the rest have had a darkened and subordinate role.
Mélenchon’s presidential program – nobody can say that it is not consistent with the positions expressed in 2005 – was very combative with the European Union. The leader of the French left defended “breaking” with the current European treaties and returning to the Member States their full budgetary sovereignty. And, in case of not obtaining the acquiescence of the rest of the community partners, he was committed to “disobeying” all those rules that contradicted his government program, rejecting the European regulations that in his eyes were less ambitious than the national ones and suspending the French participation (opt-out) in some programs.
Mélenchon wants to review the treaties and Le Pen replace the EU with an Assembly of Nations
Marine Le Pen, another veteran eurosceptic, is not far behind, although in recent years she has considerably moderated some of her theses (the idea of leaving the euro, for example, was shelved long ago). The leader of the extreme right also proposed, in her presidential program, to end the current treaties and establish an Assembly of Nations to replace the EU. And it exposed a whole series of measures that directly clashed with the European agreements, such as the primacy of national jurisdiction over European jurisdiction, “national pre-eminence” in access to social assistance, employment and housing, or “patriotism”. economic”.
The positions of Mélenchon and Le Pen – so distant in some respects and so close in others – are not testimonial, if they ever were. On this occasion, both groups make up nearly half of the National Assembly. Seventeen years later, in French politics, Europe is trading downward again.