France decides whether to give Macron a free hand or force him into cohabitation

Emmanuel Macron himself referred to Jupiter – father of the gods, according to Greek mythology – to describe the extensive powers of the French president.

NewsEditor
NewsEditor
11 June 2022 Saturday 15:32
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France decides whether to give Macron a free hand or force him into cohabitation

Emmanuel Macron himself referred to Jupiter – father of the gods, according to Greek mythology – to describe the extensive powers of the French president. That was at the start of his first term, when a young and graceful leader stormed onto the French and European scene. Five years later, the reelected tenant of the Elysée faces legislative elections that could mortgage his presidency and even force him to cohabit with the left.

For the third time since last April 10, the French go to the polls today. They do it to elect, in the first round, the 577 deputies of the National Assembly. Next Sunday, the 19th, the second round will take place. Four votes in a row cause democratic fatigue. It is estimated that abstention will be around 53%, a historical maximum. Many citizens are not aware of the importance of Parliament. They think that, having been re-elected Macron, on April 24, with almost 59% of the votes, things are clear and there will be stability, but they are wrong.

It is true that the French system is Jupiterian because hyper-presidential management prevails. But there have been several cases of forced cohabitation between a president of a political party and a prime minister and a National Assembly of different colors. He succeeded the socialist François Mitterrand and the conservative Jacques Chirac. Governing was complicated.

Macron runs the risk that the coalition that supports him, Ensemble (together), will not obtain an absolute majority. In this case, he must seek allies to carry out laws and reforms. Most likely, he will try Los Republicanos (LR, right). That would leave him handcuffed. Even obtaining the absolute majority by the minimum, the legislature will not be a bed of roses because some components of Ensemble can cause problems. One of them is the center-right Horizons party, led by former Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, now mayor of Le Havre. Philippe aspires to appear at the Elysée in 2027. He wants to be influential and to be noticed. He has already announced that he will be “loyal, but free”. His support, therefore, will not be free or unconditional.

Citizen fatigue has been visible in a flat campaign, almost non-existent. People, in the markets, have avoided those who distributed electoral brochures. Even the media have paid relative attention, aware that they were boring the public, saturated with political blah blah blah. News such as the chaos in the Champions League final have had much more impact and follow-up than the proposals of the matches. In addition, the incessant and very extensive coverage of the war in Ukraine on television networks has continued.

The polls are unanimous that the left-wing coalition led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon will obtain a great result. It is the award for unity and for a leader who, although accused of demagoguery by his rivals, has a lot of skill and charisma. Whether you like it or not, the New Popular Ecologist and Social Union (Nupes) has managed to explain its program, which includes very specific proposals such as raising the minimum wage to 1,500 net monthly, blocking energy prices and products basic necessities or retirement at age 60.

Marine Le Pen's far-right aspires to win at least 15 deputies – now she has only 8 – and form a parliamentary group. The two-round majority system hurts them a lot. Even more damaging is the system for the other ultra alternative, Éric Zemmour's Reconquista party. He is the only one with any chance of being elected deputy, on the Côte d'Azur.

The Republicans are in a serious crisis, but the local and regional roots of some of their candidates who are already deputies may lead them to keep a few dozen seats of very high political value if Macron needs them to prop up his fragile majority.

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