Analysis: Macron’s centrist plan for French politics led to land grabs by fringe parties

Although his centrist alliance Ensemble! won the largest share in Sunday’s runoff with 245 seats out of 577, missing 289 seats needed for an outright majority.

Macron’s coalition will now try to build alliances in parliament to pass the law.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Bourne said on Sunday evening: “From tomorrow we will work to create an action-oriented majority. This coalition has no alternative to guarantee the stability of our country and carry out the necessary reforms.”

These reforms include raising the retirement age and a more business-oriented agenda, and both have met with resistance from across the political spectrum, including protests during Macron’s first term. He also wants to push for greater EU integration and has positioned himself as the bloc’s de facto leader after former German Chancellor Angela Merkel left office last year.

Philippe Marlière, professor of French and European politics at University College London, said “Macron will try to govern through ad hoc alliances on specific issues” but notes that opposition parties may want to wait and see if Macron dissolves parliament and “holds another one”. elections in a year.

Analysts are already describing Sunday’s election results as a major personal setback for the French president that could tarnish his legacy.

When Macron was first elected in 2017, he did so as a relatively unknown figure, leading a political movement that seemed to come out of nowhere and push France’s traditional centre-left and centre-right aside.

Macron’s goal was to depoliticize French politics in a certain way. He wanted to create a great center with people from both the left and the right who would try to solve France’s problems with impartial common sense.” – Gerard Haro, Former French Ambassador to the United States. United States, CNN reported.

“On the contrary, it created the feeling that the only real alternatives to Macron’s centrists were fringe politicians from both the left and the right,” he added.

Haro’s analysis is hard to dispute. The second largest political force now sitting in the French National Assembly is the left-wing coalition New Ecological and Social People’s Union (NUPES), led by far-leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

The third largest is Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally. Le Pen was Macron’s rival in the second round of the presidential election in April, in which she won 41% of the popular vote.

The French far-right National Rally party, led by Marine Le Pen, came in third with 89 seats.

Aurélien Mondon, a senior lecturer at the University of Bath who specializes in European far-right politics and radicalization, says Macron’s biggest failure may be the normalization of Le Pen and the far right in general.

“The idea of ​​a big center that created a horseshoe, with Macron and his centrists surrounded by the far right and the far left, meant that Le Pen could put herself in the same category as NUPES,” explains Mondon.

While NUPES does have radicals, including Mélenchon himself, there are also Greens and Socialists among its members, who have been mainstream French parties for many years.

Mondon says that the record number of seats in parliament will allow Le Pen to call this result “an effective victory and fuel the idea that the far right is marching ever closer to power in France and the rest of Europe.”

There is no doubt that Macron’s victory in 2017 was historic. In the world of Brexit and Donald Trump, his centrist, pro-European victory was hailed by many who feared the political instability that was being felt around the world.

Now it seems that this victory was a very long time ago, and it is difficult to imagine what will happen to Macron’s political center when he is no longer in power. It is even more difficult to predict what will happen to those voters who oppose Macron after his departure: can they be tempted to return to the center of French politics, or will they move further and further to the margins of the left and right?

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