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French Election: Macron Sacrifices Stability for Power

The French president’s road to political perdition.

In a stunning reversal of the first round of voting in the French election, President Emmanuel Macron appears to have sacrificed any hopes of political stability in favor of keeping Marine Le Pen from the levers of power. As the results trickled in from yesterday’s second-round voting, it became clear that Macron’s strategic alliances to keep the so-called “far-right” from forming a majority had ushered in a situation that was arguably far worse for France.

In the French Parliament, the National Assembly, Macron’s party, Ensemble (ENS), earned just 161 of a possible 577 seats – 76 down from the last election. Madame Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) came in third with 142 seats – an increase of 53. And topping the polls was Jean-Luc Melenchon’s New Popular Front (NFP), earning 188. With no party having a majority, France is facing a year of infighting and stalemate.

But it gets worse.

Macron Makes a Devil’s Bargain

Monsieur Melenchon is about as far left as one can be in European politics. In response to the October 7 massacre of Jews in Israel, he and his party refused to condemn Hamas or refer to them as a terrorist organization. Indeed, the first missive from his group said that the attack was “an armed offensive by Palestinian forces” that came “in the context of the intensification by Israel of the policy of occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”

And then there is the Russia question. In 2014, he wrote that Crimea was lost to NATO and that that was “good news.” He accused the US of trying to “annex” Ukraine into NATO and that the demonization of Russia and Putin was American “propaganda.” Although he has more recently tried to walk back somewhat on these positions, the question remains whether he has had a change of heart or has sensed the direction of the political winds and adopted a more pragmatic course.

Macron warned in early July that if Le Pen’s RN were to win these elections, there would be a “civil war” in France. And yet, when he saw that the polls were favoring Le Pen, he jumped into bed with not just Melenchon but also actual Communist candidates, striking deals to have his own people step aside. It seems that no price was too heavy to avoid a National Rally majority.

The Embryo of Revolt

While President Macron has overseen a swath of unpopular policy decisions – such as raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 – it is illegal immigration that has thrown his leadership into such disarray. Voters have seemingly had enough of mass uncontrolled immigration, legal or otherwise, that has negatively impacted French communities – often in deadly ways.

A schoolteacher beheaded by an Islamist outraged that students were shown a picture of Mohammed, a Catholic priest murdered by Islamic State supporters, and the Charlie Hebdo massacre are just a few examples. Indeed, the dozens of terror attacks against the French people since Macron came to power in 2017 have pushed the nation to the brink. And yet, Mr. Macron has treated the general aura of fear as little more than the cost of having a multicultural society.

It was this “Jupiterian” approach to governance (his own choice of words) that spurred the electorate to come out in droves for Madame Le Pen and her party. And it is a sentiment echoed in the recent European Parliament election results. Yet, due to the backroom dealings between Macron and the extreme left, France may well be headed for the chaos and turmoil he warned a victory for Le Pen’s party would bring.

A One-Way Swing?

Across Europe, parties labeled as “right wing” or “far right” are on the ascent. In Italy, Prime Minister Georgia Meloni re-secured her power base in the EU elections, in Germany, the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) is the second most popular party. In fact, parties of this broad-church persuasion are growing in power by the week.

New banner Viewpoint with eyeBut what of the United Kingdom and the recent Labour Party landslide? Well, that is actually a case in point. Certainly, the party won a huge majority of seats in Parliament, but its share of the vote and actual number of votes cast in its favor were significantly down from the last election in 2019. Only one party registered an increase of any significance: Nigel Farage’s Reform UK.

Due to the practicalities of the British electoral system which favors parties that have a concentration of votes in a constituency rather than the national vote total, Reform earned almost half the number of ballots won by Labour but was rewarded with just five seats compared to the winning party’s 412. Although Reform had a huge chunk of votes, they were spread out across the country, whereas Labour focuses its spending and strategy on constituencies… this means that it gets an outsized number of seats against its total vote share. The left-wing Labour Party may have emerged as the big winner in the election, but roughly 80% of the total electorate did not vote for it.

In France, Madame Le Pen has continued to increase her party’s popularity and seems well-positioned to take the reins in the next election, assuming there is a country left to govern.

The French Future

Under the French Constitution, Macron cannot call another National Assembly election for one year. This means that no party will hold power – and it is still uncertain who will be the new Prime Minister. To pass any legislation, his centrists will have to make offers and capitulations to those with an extreme left position. And that may not be something his party is willing to do.

Essentially, there will be no productive business in the National Assembly until a new round of elections are held – likely in July 2025. Rancor and acrimony will be the new normal as each of the three factions fight to position themselves for a majority down the line. The president warned of a “civil war” if the right took power, and within moments of the results coming in, Paris was, indeed, in flames – but it was not Le Pen’s supporters that brought the riot police to the nation’s capital.

President Macron succeeded in his mission to keep National Rally from power, but the price he paid may turn out to be one that France can ill afford.

Read More From Mark Angelides

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