French Legislative Elections: the Real Challenges Lie Ahead

As expected, the real winner in the first round of the French legislative elections, on June 12, was the abstention party, which reached an absolute record of 52,49% (51.3% in 2017).There were also half a million invalid ballots.

The real surprise was that Emmanuel Macron’s party Ensemble, and Jean Luc Mélenchon’s NUPES received, according to the government’s figures, practically the same score: 25,7% as against 25.6%, or a difference of only 21,442 votes. Marine Le Pen’s party came in third with 19,1%. A projection of the results in the June 19 second round would give Macron’s party between 256 and 295 seats in the next National Assembly; the NUPES 150-190 seats and the Le Pen’s National Rally 20 to 40. At this point, it is quite likely that Ensemble will not have an absolute majority among the 577 MPs.

These results show that the comfortable majority Macron seemed to enjoy after winning 58,5% of the votes in the April 10 Presidential election, was relatively misleading – due in no small part to the demonization campaign against his rival, Marine Le Pen. Indeed, between the 9,78 million votes he got in the presidential election, and the 5,87 million votes for his party this week, Macron lost nearly 4 million. It is also misleading to present the results of the NUPES (New Ecologic and Social People’s Union) as a breakthrough for the left. The NUPES — an alliance of Melenchon’s La France Insoumise, the Greens, the Socialist Party, etc. – received less votes than the sum of its components won in the first round of the presidential elections!

Does this mean that the French population has turned against politics ? “I can assure you of the contrary,” stated Jacques Cheminade, President of Solidarity and Progress, who campaigned actively throughout France to support S & P’s 13 candidates. “If the French are uninterested in anything, it is in those politicians who are incapable of presenting a coherent and competent project.”

While the results are generally interpreted as the consolidation of three blocs, Cheminade noted that the reality is the division of France into an elite bloc, mostly formed by university graduates and wealthy retirees, and a popular bloc, itself divided into “socialists” and “nationalists. But it is not irrealistic to believe, as Solidarité et Progrès does, that such a popular bloc « could become something more than an illusion », since « we defend the common interest of this political majority ». “Nothing can be accomplished without breaking with a financial system that issues money with no productive counterpart and thus generates inequalities by feeding the price inflation of both goods and services — a de facto tax on the poorest — and of assets — a constant bonus for the wealthiest.”

Cheminade thanked the Solidarité & Progrès candidates, as well as the 72 candidates running under the “Reason of the People” banner, “for their courage, their constancy and their efforts”. “You have laid the groundwork for the advent of a social and sovereign Republic…. We thank our voters, who knew how to chose outside the momentary rules of the game.”

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