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In France, the rebellious left is also worried

Photo: Agence France-Presse The founder of the left-wing party La France Insoumise (LFI), Jean-Luc Melenchon, exclaims during the LFI election evening, July 7, 2024.

Étienne Paré in Paris

Posted at 4:17 p.m. Updated at 6:01 p.m.

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Parisians seemed relieved the day after legislative elections which put the National Rally (RN) out of play, contrary to what the polls suggested. The composition of the next government, however, remains an enigma, because none of the three major political blocs obtained a majority of seats in the National Assembly. Arriving in the lead, the left still moved forward and said it was preparing to exercise power. But the prospect of seeing La France Insoumise (LFI), the party of the fiery Jean-Luc Mélenchon, enter the government, raises questions – not to say worries. Even in a city that leans more to the left like Paris.

“Mélenchon is the most extreme of extremists. He's even scarier than the RN. If we implemented everything he promised, France, which already has a very high debt, would be bankrupt. But to be honest, I don't really believe in it. I believe that there are more reasonable people on the left who will not let him govern,” says Frédérique, an advisor in a high-end design store in a beautiful neighborhood of Paris.

She calls on centre-left organisations, such as the Socialist Party, to take responsibility by dissociating themselves from LFI and instead allying themselves with Emmanuel Macron’s centrist bloc. This is one of the many options on the table in the wake of legislative elections that did not result in an absolute majority. Another possible scenario: the Macronists could form a government with what remains of the traditional right. They could even go so far as to create a broad coalition not only with the right, but also the centre-left, so that the next government would have an absolute majority to govern.

In neighboring Germany, it is common for such heterogeneous coalitions to be formed bringing together several political tendencies, but, in a country as polarized as France, this way of doing things is not part of the political culture.

The shadow of Mélenchon

For the moment, the socialists and ecologists remain united with LFI within the New Popular Front (NFP). The leaders of the three parties promise to agree by the end of next week on a name to submit to President Macron for the post of prime minister.

The current head of government, Gabriel Attal, presented his resignation to the president on Monday, but the latter refused it. Emmanuel Macron in fact asked the young politician from his own coalition to remain prime minister “for the moment” in order to “ensure the stability of the country”.

In the speech he gave on Sunday evening, when the results were announced, Jean-Luc Mélenchon pleaded with the verve that we know for the departure of Gabriel Attal. A way for the LFI leader to position himself as future prime minister.

On paper, he would be a logical choice to lead an NFP government — France insoumise is the party with the most deputies within the left alliance. However, Jean-Luc Mélenchon is so divisive in France that several leading figures of the New Popular Front repeated during the campaign that the man who was a candidate three times in the presidential election would not be prime minister in the event of victory.

It is however not excluded that a member of his party could be appointed head of government. One thing is certain: ministers in a possible left-wing government would come from LFI.

The plague and cholera

“That doesn’t worry me so much, because, at least, I know that they won’t be the majority. The important thing is that the National Rally did not win these elections. Afterwards, it is true that we must not lose sight of the fact that the extreme left is no better than the extreme right. For me, it’s like the plague or cholera,” underlines Henri, owner of a kosher butcher shop in Pletzl, the Jewish quarter of Paris.

Indeed , within the French Jewish community, the simple mention of the name of Jean-Luc Mélenchon makes many shudder. Here, many go so far as to accuse him of being anti-Semitic, which the 71-year-old politician vigorously refutes.

Following the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, La France insoumise did not qualify the Islamist group as a terrorist group. Since then, LFI has made the Palestinian cause one of its favorite subjects – and even the main axis of its campaign for the European elections last spring. “It’s pure opportunism to seek out the voices of young people [from Arab immigrants] in the suburbs, who feel very concerned by what is happening in Gaza for reasons of identity. But it is an extremely dangerous game to import this subject into France, while anti-Semitism is on the rise. As Jews, we feel less and less safe,” says Hannah, who teaches at a Jewish school.

This progressive nevertheless voted for the New Popular Front, which was represented by a candidate from the Socialist Party in her constituency. She now wants the socialists and ecologists to turn away from LFI to govern with President Macron's centrists.

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The formation of a government by the left promises to be perilous. Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, the Conservatives have just handed over power to the center-left Labor Party in the most orderly way possible — and without anyone panicking.

On this side of the Channel, the left has the distinction of never having completely cut ties with its more radical fringe. In 1981, socialist president François Mitterrand appointed four ministers from the communist camp. The French Communist Party, however, represented a political force in decline. Today, the balance of power is no longer the same between La France insoumise and the more moderate left-wing parties.

This report was financed thanks to the support of the Transat- International Journalism Fund The duty .

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116