Le Pen and Melenchon seek revenge
Emmanuel Macron will not enjoy a grace period. He did not even give a brief respite. His reelection as president of France, last Sunday, with a considerable advantage over Marine Le Pen, does not guarantee him peace of mind. Both the extreme right and the radical left will try to take revenge in the legislative elections on June 12 and 19.
At first glance the results were overwhelming. Macron obtained 58.5% of the vote against Le Pen's 41.5%. Seventeen point difference. Almost 5.5 million more votes for the current president. However, other data shows that, in reality, Macron is far from having majority support in the country. 13.6 million French (28% of the electoral roll) abstained. 2.2 million people voted blank and 790,000 cast a null ballot.
Abstention was high by French standards, but what was really extraordinary was, as happened in 2017, the volume of blank and null votes, almost three million voters in total. They are citizens who thus expressed their deep disgust, their frustration and impotence, due to the forced dilemma between two candidates who did not convince them at all. If you take into account the abstentions and the blank and invalid votes. Macron was re-elected with only 38.5% of the electoral roll.
The president also knows – and he publicly acknowledged this at the victory party, on the Champ de Mars, under the Eiffel Tower – that some of those who voted for him did so without any enthusiasm, resigned, out of a pure moral duty to avoid access to power of the extreme right.
The cards of French politics will be reshuffled in June when the vote is taken to renew the National Assembly. Clearly, Sunday's win gives Macron's party, La República en Marcha (REM), a strong boost. For a sector of the president's voters, choosing the REM ballot will be an almost automatic reflex. However, nothing guarantees a majority like the one obtained in 2017. In these years the party has not been sufficiently consolidated in the territory. It was exposed in the European elections of 2019, in the municipal elections of 2020 and in the regional elections of 2021. In all three cases the results for the presidential party were disappointing, if not humiliating.
It will be necessary to see how the candidacies are articulated between REM and other forces of the presidential majority, such as the centrists of MoDem and the new center-right force, Horizons, of former Prime Minister Édouard Philippe. Macron himself wants to intervene directly in the decisions about the candidates.
Three million blank or invalid votes express the deep disgust of many voters
The leader of France Insumisa and of the Popular Union candidacy, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who garnered almost 22% of the vote in the first round of the presidential elections, believes that it will be possible for him to attract other leftist forces and have a very solid block of deputies. He even aspires to win the elections and for Macron to be forced to appoint him prime minister, which would mean a very extravagant political cohabitation.
Mélenchon, always skillful, came on stage as soon as it was known that Macron had won to try to spoil the party and throw the hook at the millions of people who refused to accept the dilemma between the president and Le Pen because they felt alien to that battle. The leftist leader assured that Macron has been "the worst chosen president of the Fifth Republic"
and, using a brilliant metaphor, he dismissed it by saying that it “floats on an ocean of forbearance,
of blank and invalid votes.
Unity will not be easy for the extreme right. There is a lot of resentment between Marine Le Pen and ultra Éric Zemmour. He proposed unity before the legislative but, at the same time, he was insulting towards Le Pen by saying that a person with that last name has already failed eight times in the Elysee elections. For now, Le Pen flatly rejects the alliance.
Macron wants to take a few days before relieving the prime minister, a decision that is taken for granted and that the current head of government, Jean Castex, has made for a long time. It is speculated that he could replace a woman. Christine Lagarde, the current president of the European Central Bank, appears in the pools. Another option, to broaden the political base, would be to appoint a prime minister from the moderate left.
The main French media recognized Macron's feat of being re-elected despite the very difficult mandate that he leaves behind. The Figaro, conservative , spoke of a "cursed five-year period", hit by the revolt of the yellow vests , the covid pandemic, brutal jihadist attacks such as the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty and, to top it off, the geopolitical earthquake of the Ukraine war. According to the newspaper, “you can be legitimate and fragile at the same time”, the situation in which the president finds himself now.
“Re-elected but already under pressure”, headlined its editorial in the newspaper The Parisien . Le Monde He stressed, with concern, "the historical level" reached by the extreme right and warned that Macron has been revalidated and has legitimacy to govern, despite the fact that "he has not moved away from the edge of the abyss."
The presidential party has not been consolidated in the territory and it is difficult to revalidate the majority of 2017
According to the left-wing newspaper liberation , it has been an “inglorious victory” for Macron, achieved not so much by his program or person as by a democratic reaction “to preserve what is essential”. The president is still in the Elysée "thanks to the political maturity of the French, who have been able, some holding their noses, to mobilize to reject the chimeras of far-right populism."
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