France wakes up to a new revivalist far-right

By Sylvie Corbett and Barbara Surk | The Associated Press

PARIS — His party’s far-right candidates for parliament sent shock waves through the political establishment and France on Monday for a spirited Marine Le Pen after President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist coalition helped rob him of an absolute majority. woken up.

Le Pen’s National Rally Party did not win in two rounds of voting in the parliamentary election that ended on Sunday. But it secured more than 10 times the seats it won five years ago.

A few months earlier, Le Pen had lost to Macron in the presidential election. But now it was her turn, as she knows she can use the seats of the National Assembly to thwart Macron’s domestic agenda and even bring a no-confidence motion.

And she smiled proudly, calling the result a “historic victory” and a “seismic event” in French politics.

Many voters chose his far-right party or left-wing candidates, leaving Macron’s coalition with the most number of seats weak.

Le Pen’s national tally won 89 seats in the 577-member parliament, up from the previous total of eight. On the other side of the political spectrum, the leftist Noops coalition led by the radical Jean-Luc Mélenchon won 131 seats to become the main opposition party.

Macros combine together! Won 245 seats – but fell short of a direct majority in the National Assembly, the most powerful house of France’s parliament, 44 seats.

The outcome of the legislative election is highly unusual in France and the strong performance of both Le Pen’s national rally and Mélancheon’s coalition – his own hard-left party, France Unbod, made up of Socialists, Greens and Communists – will make it difficult for Macron. He was re-elected in May to implement an agenda that includes tax cuts and raising France’s retirement age from 62 to 65.

“Macron is now a minority president. (…) his retirement reform plan has been buried,” a beaming Le Pen declared on Monday in his stronghold of Henin-Beaumont in northern France, where he is expected to receive another vote in parliament. Was re-elected for a five-year term.

She told reporters: “We are entering parliament as a very strong group and thus we will claim every position that belongs to us.” As the largest single opposition party in parliament – ​​Mélénchon leads a coalition – she said the National Rally would seek to preside over the parliament’s powerful finance committee.

The National Rally, formerly known as the National Front, has been a political force in France for decades. But the two-way voting system had so far kept it from scoring big in parliamentary elections.

Political analyst Bryce Tinturier, deputy director general of the Ipsos polling institute, said on France Inter radio that Sunday’s result meant “the national rally is ‘institutionalising’ itself.” He said that the strategy through which all other political forces came together to defeat the far right in the crucial phase, no longer works.

Le Pen lost to Macron in April with 41.5% of the vote against 58.5% – his highest level of support in his three attempts to become France’s leader.

Since taking over the party in 2011, Le Pen has worked under the leadership of his father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, to address the stigma of racism and anti-Semitism associated with the National Front. By softening some of his views and rhetoric, he sought to shift the party from a protest movement to an opposition force that is considered capable of governing. He also changed the name of the party.

Le Pen’s national rally now has a sufficient number of legislators to form a formal group in the National Assembly and request seats on parliamentary committees, including those focusing on defense and foreign policy.

In addition, the National Rally Party now has enough seats – more than 58 – to launch a censure motion against the government that could lead to a no-confidence vote.
The new assembly will start functioning next week.

Meanwhile, France is headed for a government reshuffle. Three of the 15 ministers running in the polls have lost the election and will have to resign under the rules set by Macron.

The president can also use the shuffle to offer new potential allies some jobs in government.

Macron has yet to comment on the election results.

His government would still have the ability to govern, but only by bargaining with legislators. The opposition may seek to hold talks on a case-by-case basis with lawmakers from the centre-left and the Conservative party, with the goal of preventing lawmakers from being in sufficient numbers to reject the proposed measures.

The government may also sometimes use a special measure provided for by the French Constitution to adopt laws without a vote.

A similar situation occurred in 1988 under socialist President François Mitterrand, who then had to seek support from communists or centrists to pass legislation.

Macron’s diplomatic policies are not expected to be affected in the near future, including France’s strong support for Ukraine. According to the French constitution, Macron retains substantial authority over foreign policy, European affairs and defence, regardless of the difficulties his coalition may face in parliament.

The political analyst, Tinturier, said the new composition of the National Assembly echoed “the French people’s desire for rebalancing” in the results of the presidential election.

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