Emmanuel Macron lost the absolute majority in France: the "center end" reinforced left and right

From Paris

This Sunday, June 19, history wrote three political chapters at the same time: the French president, Emmanuel Macronlost the absolute majority in the National Assembly: the left, grouped in the Nupes alliance (New Popular Ecological and Social Union), ranked as the second political force and became the main actor in the opposition to Macron with one of his most outstanding results in recent years, 140 seats, and the extreme right led by Marine Le Pen gave the great electoral blow with his position as third force and the best result in its history, 90 deputies. The presidential axis, with a relative majority that oscillates between 210 and 240 deputies, is far from the 289 necessary to adopt bills by itself.

The dynamic that weakens the second term

Macronismo is today squeezed between an extreme right that, with an estimate of 90 seats, can form its own parliamentary group (32 deputies as it happened between 1986 and 1988), file motions of censure (56 deputies) and go to the Constitutional Council to challenge bills (60 deputies); and a leftist alliance (145, 155 seats planned) between France Insumisa (radical left), environmentalists, socialists and communists that can exert a strong counterweight to presidential power.

In 5 years of presidency crossed by the crisis of the yellow vests (2018-2019), the strikes and demonstrations against the reform of the pension system (2019) and the pandemic (2020-2021) Emmanuel Macron and his unsound Republic on the Move were absorbed by a negative dynamic that will weaken the nascent second term. In reality, macronismo was devoured by his own narrative: 5 years ago, in 2017, he said: “the left and the right no longer exist. Here is the extreme center.” In 2022 the hyper reality tells him: “here we are to control you”.

Tonight there were two distinctive winners and one losing axis: no one saw the far right, but it ended up in a decisive position for its future expansion. The electoral progression that he has starred in has been dazzling: went from the modest six deputies of the old legislature to the 90 of today. Those percentages are above all polls and electoral astrologies. The forecasts announced to Marine Le Pen a range that moved between 25 and 50 seats. Marine Le Pen celebrated her victory and recognized that “this group will be by far the largest in the history of our family. We have achieved our goal: to make Emmanuel Macron a minority president.”

The left garnered five times more votes than in the 2017 legislative, which led the leader of France Insumisa, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, to say “it is a completely unexpected situation, unprecedentedthe defeat of the presidential party is total and there is not even a majority!”

Emmanuel Macron came out weakened beyond speculation. Several of his ministers who competed this Sunday were defeated, either by candidates from Nupes or by lepenistas and the same thing happened with historical figures of macronismo: Richard Ferrand, the president of the National Assembly, lost his seat to a candidate from the left and the President of the group La República en Marcha (LREM) in the Assembly will not retain his deputy status either: Christophe Castaner fell to another Nupes rival.

A bewildering scene

The electoral panorama that emerges after this Sunday is disconcerting. “This is an ungovernable hell, an unjust punishment,” murmured the outgoing deputies of the movement of various parties that support the head of state (Ensemble). One of them, overcome with sorrow, said “no one wins, but we lose.” The government spokeswoman, Olivia Grégoire, said “we have disappointed many French people, the message is clear”’.

The setback is huge. A president comfortably re-elected two months ago loses his parliamentary majority to the benefit of two radical opposition forces and is thus drastically limited in implementing its policies. Macron is between the parts of two powerful and stubborn pincers. Neither the extreme right nor a leftist alliance like Nupes had previously had such extensive power in the National Assembly. In turn, the famous right-wing government that, together with the Socialist Party, was the protagonist of the alternation in the last 40 years was reduced to a testimonial role and a relief wheel for macronism. The Republicans barely obtained 4.8% in the presidential elections and this Sunday the estimates give them between 62 and 68 deputies, a third less than in 2017. However, that is where presidential salvation lies. The votes of this right that is so close to macronism will be decisive in carrying out future laws or preventing the government from remaining in a minority.

What Macron’s critics, both inside and outside his field, have been saying for several weeks is dramatically reflected in this Sunday’s results: the president failed to set a clear course, was unable to raise the level of the debate and erase that permanent feeling of absence, of unpreparedness, that instead of advancing he dodged, disappeared, crouched and did not create action and sound where it was necessary.

Macron’s self-constructed failure

The two campaigns, presidential and legislative, in total 4 rounds, had the same phantasmagorical profile: lethargy, lack of debates and perspectives. Macron seemed so sure of winning that he didn’t bother to fight for a victory that slipped out of his hands in just two months. The joys of re-election are already parliamentary sorrows.

in its own subtle way, the french president fell into his own net. In 2017 he was elected with a rhetoric “neither nor”, neither left, nor right. He sold the electorate the idea that the parties of the left and of the right were something obsolete, old-fashioned, surpassed by the needs of modernity management. Macron decreed the end of ideological history and proposed in its place an “apolitical” political movement, without foundations or roots and capable of drawing on all the other parties.

The crisis of social democracy and of the right facilitated the expansion of this false rhetoric. Due to lack of roots, territorial and ideological identity, 5 years later that same story left him captive of his will, that is, of what he tried to erase, the left and the right, now in its strongest versions: the Nupes alliance dominated by the radical left of France Insumisa and the extreme right of the National Regroupment. A phantom majority came out framed, besieged by two gladiators with a long historical tradition. Emmanuel pretended to aspire to the right and to the left and ended up surrounded by the less friendly versions of both.

An Assembly hostile to a relative and demobilized majority does not augur a stable mandate, even less so in a threatening context both due to the pandemic that still persists and is increasing and due to the war in Ukraine. In an ultra-presidential regime such as the French one, a National Assembly such as the one outlined will lead to a practice that is rarely used in the high presidential spheres where it is usual to govern with absolute majorities and, if there are problems, by decree: consensus, negotiation , discussion and pacts are not part of the French government culture.

This is “an unprecedented situation” that “represents a danger to our country,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne acknowledged last night. Emmanuel Macron will try to govern from now on in a state of siege. He is surrounded by the two political identities that he wanted to get out of history and they returned to remind him that without them history would not exist as such. And with him in the presidency, one of those identities, the most destructive in European history, the extreme right, returned with more weight than ever. The providential man of the “extreme center” reinforced in the end the most intense and opposite poles.

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