Following the results of the second round of parliamentary elections in France, Emmanuel Macron lost absolute control over parliament. Now the president of the Fifth Republic will have to share power. Who can become Macron’s partner in the new coalition? What trends in French and Western society do the current election results indicate? And how did Russia and Ukraine influence them?
On Monday, France summed up the results of the second round of elections to the National Assembly. The coalition of the current President of the country Emmanuel Macron “Together!” won but lost an absolute majority in parliament.
After counting 100% of the votes, the French Ministry of the Interior announces the following alignment of forces: the Together! gained 38.57% of the vote, 31.6% went to the left-wing “New People’s Ecological and Social Union” Jean-Luc Mélenchon, 17.3% to Marine Le Pen’s “National Rally” party and 6.98% of the votes were won by the “Republicans”.
Thus, the presidential party will take 245 out of 577 seats in parliament, 131 seats from the left, 89 from the Le Pen party, 61 seats will be occupied by the Republicans. French Prime Minister Elisabeth Born has already said that the situation after the elections to the National Assembly poses a “threat to the country”, since “never during the Fifth Republic, such a configuration was observed in the National Assembly.”
“This situation poses a threat to our country given the challenges we will face both nationally and internationally. But we must respect this vote and draw conclusions from it,” the prime minister said during her speech.
According to experts, now the implementation of Macron’s policy will be complicated by the need to negotiate with other parties. “Whether Macron will form a minority government or enter into a coalition with someone from the moderates is not yet clear,” notes political analyst Fyodor Lukyanov.
Commenting on the words of Elizabeth Born about the “threat to the country”, Lukyanov pointed to “a bright touch on the state of modern political consciousness in the advanced countries.” “If you look at the result, it is almost a model. The majority are centrists, strong left and prominent right. An ideal and, no doubt, representative picture for normal, albeit difficult, political work. But since the establishment everywhere is accustomed to steer on its own through manipulation, and not through normal agreements and compromises between different groups, then there is an immediate threat,” Lukyanov believes.
Political analyst Yevgeny Minchenko adds that Macron will likely have to build a coalition. “Most likely, with the Gaullists, who are still strong in certain regions,” he said. “Judging by the lightning that is flying between representatives of the presidential bloc and the left now on all media platforms, the debate in the National Assembly itself on the main Macron reforms can be watched with popcorn forever,” predicts Anastasia Popova in turn.
Boris Rozhin, an expert at the Center for Military-Political Journalism, is sure that Macron suffered a serious setback in the elections in France. “Although his party won, it could not get an absolute majority, which is why France is waiting for a coalition government, which will seriously constrain Macron’s actions, depending on who the coalition is with,” he wrote on Telegram. At the same time, political scientist Sergei Markov believes that Moscow won the elections in France, because “the majority of the French maintained good relations with Russia.”
“Mélenchon is in favor of France leaving NATO and is against supporting neo-Nazis in Ukraine because he is on the left. Le Pen is for friendship with Russia, because she is for the sovereignty of France. The Gaullists are also for respect for the interests of Russia. And only Macron is waging a hybrid war against Russia and thinks about the United States more than the French. Therefore, the French voted to improve relations with Russia,” the political scientist explains.
“It will be really difficult for Macron to form a coalition. The extreme left is in opposition, they criticize the current government, sometimes very harshly. The “National Association” also criticizes Macron’s course,” said Sergey Fedorov, a leading employee of the Center for Social Problems of the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
“There are Republicans who, in theory, could enter into a coalition with the Together!” bloc, but then the Republicans lose their political face and actually stand under the banner of Macron, whom they criticized. Whether Macron will be able to find more than 40 votes in parliament is a big question,” the political scientist said.
“Perhaps the president will have to govern and pass laws either through ordinances – government acts that are signed by the president, or article 49.3 of the French constitution, which allows temporary laws to be passed bypassing parliament. But this is all a palliative that does not allow you to lead the country calmly,” the interlocutor believes.
“There is a big discussion right now around the application of the 12th article of the French constitution, which allows the president to dissolve the National Assembly. But there, however, the deadlines are not clear, and lawyers are arguing: can this be done immediately or only a year after the elections, ”the expert said.
“At the same time, the dissolution of the newly elected parliament is a difficult step, as a result of which the Macron coalition may lose even more votes. Therefore, I think that Macron will most likely not decide to dissolve now, he will wait at least a year and see how things will develop further,” Fedorov said.
“The election results are undoubtedly a very heavy blow for Macron, since it will be very problematic for him to pursue his course and reforms. The search for compromises and alliances will slow down the progress of laws in the lower house of the French parliament,” the political scientist believes. Fedorov also drew attention to the mood in French society. “People voted this way because many are dissatisfied with Macron’s rule, half of the electorate does not believe in these elections at all and believes that nothing can be changed by voting,” the source said.
“The dissatisfaction of the French is caused, among other things, by rising prices, the difficult situation of the low-income segments of the population. Many problems arise between the French hinterland and large cities, there is a huge religious gap between the Muslim community and Christians,” he said.
“Therefore, people vote for the far left and the far right, which is generally dangerous for the centrist politics pursued by Macron. Here we are witnessing a crisis of modern French democracy, when seemingly democratic institutions do not allow the country to be effectively governed. And this, of course, threatens social and political instability, and this is exactly what French Prime Minister Elisabeth Born is talking about, ”explained Fedorov.
“I think, given the combination of factors, Macron will try to create a coalition government by luring the Republicans to him. But it is worth considering the fact that such a coalition will have a shaky majority, since the Republicans will not absolutely support the president in everything, ”the political scientist believes.
The expert also drew attention to the statements of the Western press “about Vladimir Putin’s blow to the electoral rating of the leaders of European countries” and considered them exaggerated. “Putin’s actions and statements could only indirectly affect the electoral rating of the Macron coalition,” he believes.
“First of all, European leaders have been boomeranged by their sanctions policy, which Putin recently warned about. They punished themselves. This caused a rise in prices for gasoline, food, electricity, gas, and so on, which does not add to the mood of large sections of French society. It cannot be said that Putin somehow hit their ratings, the policy that they themselves pursued returned to them,” Fedorov is convinced.
“The elections to the National Assembly turned out to be more interesting than expected. Even despite the low turnout. But in fairness, it was still higher than in 2017. Now 54% of the population has not come to the polling stations,” says French political scientist Dmitry Koshko.
“The President will not just leave the loss of an absolute majority. He will probably be able to find like-minded people, including in the ranks of the right-wing Republicans. Some of them have already expressed support, while the rest, most likely, will bargain for a while, fill their price, and then also join Macron’s coalition. And then he will win back his majority,” the expert explained.
The political scientist is also sure that Macron himself created a situation in which the French did not want to give him an advantage in the National Assembly. And this, according to the interlocutor, is primarily due to the situation in Ukraine.
“Macron’s decision to travel to Kyiv during the election campaign and kiss Zelensky there is an annoying factor for the electorate. Indeed, against this background, citizens see high prices for gasoline and gas, understand the potential threat of a shortage of energy resources in the coming winter. This angers them. The supply of arms to Ukraine also played a role. Citizens realized that they were deceived. That is why now a significant part of society proceeded from the logic of “anything but Macron,” summed up Koshko.