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Towards an ungovernable France ?

Photo: Aurélien Morissard Le président français, Emmanuel Macron

“We're voting against pigs, Jordan, you're dead”, “Go fuck your mothers, Marine and Bardella”, “Marine and Marion, the whores, a blow to these female dogs in heat”, “If the fascists pass , I'm going to go out with a big caliber.”

These lyrics from a rap called No Pasarán, in memory of the Spanish War, give an idea of ​​the violence of the words exchanged a few hours before the second round of the French legislative elections. They are not the work of a dark unknown rapper, but the fruit of the collaboration of around twenty artists, such as Fianso, Akhenaton, Mac Tyer, Seth Gueko, Zola, Soso Maness, qualified by Liberation of “the flower of French rap”. The proceeds will also be donated to the Abbé Pierre Foundation.

This shows the atmosphere that reigns in France in this period between the two rounds, especially marked by withdrawals on the left and in the center in order to “block” the National Rally (RN).

“Cutting a barrier”

Never had an inter-turn experienced such commotion since Emmanuel Macron, after having turned his majority to the right for two years, suddenly decided to shift all to the left to build an electoral alliance with the left-wing bloc of the New Popular Front (NFP) at 48 hours' notice. In more than 210 constituencies, candidates who came third in the first round and were in a position to stand again withdrew in order to allow a candidate from the central bloc or the left bloc to win.

Often comical withdrawals. Thus, Emmanuel Macron’s former Prime Minister, Édouard Philippe, will vote for a communist candidate from the NFP denounced again yesterday by Emmanuel Macron for his communitarianism and anti-Semitism. The one who orchestrated the highly contested pension reform, former Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne, in difficulty in Calvados, could owe her seat to Noé Gauchard, a candidate from La France insoumise (LFI) who recently considered this reform illegitimate and anti-democratic. In Tourcoing, the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, will be supported by Leslie Mortreux, another LFI candidate who repeats like a mantra that “The police kill!” In exchange for the withdrawal of the candidates from the left bloc, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal has also announced the suspension of the unemployment insurance reform.

The issue of abstention

Will voters follow these instructions intended to “block the extreme right” ? This is the big question of this election. In an Odoxa-Backbone poll, more than half of voters (51%) said they did not take these instructions into account. Some even believe that the center bloc has denounced the “extreme left” so much that these last minute tinkerings could have the opposite effect.

“The election will be play on abstention and postponement of votes”, estimated in Le Pointpolitical scientist Jean-Yves Dormagen, from the Cluster17 institute. According to him, in the event of a duel between the right and left blocs, 41% of Emmanuel Macron’s voters could abstain, especially since the withdrawal rules set by the majority include many exceptions. On the left, a third of voters could also abstain or vote blank if they only have a choice between a candidate from the presidential majority and another from the RN. According to several experts, it is these hesitant voters who will decide the outcome of the vote and tip the balance between an absolute or relative majority for the RN.

Evoking the disgust of a section of the French for political “mess”, political scientist Dominique Reynié said this week in Le Pointmeasure a certain increase in voting intentions in favor of the RN. Between the 13 million votes obtained in the presidential election by Marine Le Pen and the 11 million in the legislative election, a reserve of votes could exist. According to the political scientist, “calls to withdraw and “block” will not slow down this process; on the contrary, they risk comforting a portion of right-wing voters who have not yet voted.” “We cannot say that a party is authorized and that it does not have the right to win,” he said on LCI.

These data are however put into perspective by the latest polls, according to which the reduction in the number of triangulars from 306 to 89 would deprive the RN of around forty seats allowing it to obtain only a relative majority with all at plus 205 deputies, more than double the previous assembly, but far from the absolute majority of 289. The center would not exceed 148 seats, and the NFP could have up to 175. Polls to obviously be taken with a pinch of salt. In 2022, experts had predicted fewer than 50 RN deputies, while he obtained 89.

A “grand coalition”?

Traveling across France so that no vote goes to the RN, 48 hours before the vote, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal took out a new proposal from his pocket. It would be a question of constituting a “plural” coalition of “republican political forces which can be from the right, from the center, from the left which can come together around the interests of the French”. An old dream of Emmanuel Macron, who spoke from his first campaign, in 2017, of a German-style “grand coalition”. For the moment, on the left, only the national secretary of the Ecologists, Marine Tondelier, has expressed interest, unlike the secretary of the Socialist Party, Olivier Faure, and the ecologist Sandrine Rousseau, who see it as an unnatural alliance. As for the rebels, they affirmed through their national coordinator, Manuel Bompard, that they “will only govern to implement their program. Nothing but their program.”

One wonders how Emmanuel Macron would achieve in such a short time what he has not been able to do since 2022, when he had yet the relative majority in the chamber and had entrusted this mission to Élisabeth Borne. In the minds of the French, this perspective evokes the return of the Union of the Lefts, which in his time, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin called the “plural left”.

On the RN side, we were ironic about the return of the “UMPS”. This is how, at the time, Marine Le Pen described the right of the UMP – the Union for a Popular Movement – ​​and the left of the PS – the Socialist Party – which, according to her, were interchangeable.

An ungovernable country

In any case, if such a coalition were to emerge, it would not be able to have an absolute majority anyway. It would therefore be vulnerable to a vote of censure since, if they obtain the expected results, LFI and the RN could together bring down this “plural” government at any time. The names of a consensual prime minister have nevertheless already started to circulate, such as that of the President of the Senate, Gérard Larcher, the former European Commissioner Michel Barnier (Les Républicains) or the former socialist prime minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

One thing is certain, unable to agree on immigration, security, nuclear power, economic policy and even the budget, this government would not be able to undertake major reforms and would have to be content with minimal day-to-day management of the country. . This, at a time when France was downgraded by the rating agencies for uncontrolled debt and deficit. From there to saying that France will be ungovernable while waiting for a new dissolution or presidential elections, there is only one step that most observers take. On Europe 1, the oldest editorialist, Catherine Nay, even mentioned the convening of the States General by Louis XVI a little before his fall.

In Le Monde, the political scientist Bertrand Badie doubted such a strategy, the coalition having “never entered into the customs” of France. For the moderate Nicolas Beytout, from the daily L’Opinion, it was only a “partisan hack which damages democracy a little more and further widens the divide with the people over which, vast eccentricity, it is fashionable to shed tears”.

If such an alliance came to pass, the RN would definitively appear as the only opposition and the only force of change, philosophy professor Éric Deschavannes estimated on the Atlantico website. “With or without a majority, the RN will emerge victorious from these elections. It will appear, faced with the new union of the left expanded to the center, as the new great party of the right. »

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