The narrow margin between Macron and the left polarizes the French campaign

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The first round of the French legislative elections had only one resounding winner, abstentionism (52.48%), a symptom of a fairly exhausted political model and an alarming citizen disinterest. The second round, next Sunday, may lead to an unstable scenario that mortgages and weakens the presidency of Emmanuel Macron in the next five years.

On the government side there was disappointment that the coalition that supports Macron risks losing the absolute majority. In addition, several ministers are vulnerable in the second round and, if they are finally left without a seat, they will have to resign.

During the decisive week of the campaign, Macron will make a trip to Romania and Moldova

In the leftist alliance (New Popular Ecological and Social Union, Nupes) there is an enthusiasm that also masks disappointment. The result – a technical draw with Macron – was excellent, although insufficient, according to all projections, for its leader, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, to claim to be appointed prime minister and force the Elysee into an uncomfortable cohabitation.

The few days of campaigning that remain will polarize a country tired of voting. It will be a tough duel, between a left tilted towards radicalism, very ideological, almost anti-system, and a macronism that presents itself as a guarantee of a responsible economic policy and the solid anchoring of France in the EU and NATO in the midst of the geopolitical earthquake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Macron, too confident because of the momentum he thought he had after winning the presidential elections in April, has put a trip on his agenda that will prevent him from campaigning in France. He will travel, between today and tomorrow, to Romania and Moldova, against the background of the Ukrainian conflict. There is even talk that he could go to Kyiv, together with Foreign Minister Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Draghi, before the weekend.

Both Macronismo and Mélenchon’s coalition now depend on what French analysts call “vote reserves”, on voters who opted for other parties in the first round but who can support them on Sunday because they consider them the lesser evil. In theory, the presidential coalition, Ensemble (together), has more reserves, since it can easily attract, in many constituencies, the electorate of Los Republicanos (LR, right) and its centrist allies, who number just over 11 % of the total. La Nupes, on the other hand, hardly has anyone to turn to, since it had already united almost the entire left. One possibility, albeit a marginal one, is that Nupes receives the support of far-right voters who hate Macron and would prefer to destabilize him at all costs.

Even a tight absolute majority of Macron would give a choppy legislature. Ensemble encompasses several parties that would condition politics. And an only relative majority would force Macron to constant pacts and would give LR, the most likely partner, an unexpected power for a party that seemed hopeless after crashing in the presidential elections.

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