Some thoughts on the French elections

by Chris Bertram on June 20, 2022

The results of the second round of the French legislative election are, despite some elements of respite, close to a disaster. The key element of that disaster is the advance of the far-right Rassemblement national to a total of 89 seats, by far the most significant representation for the extreme right under the 5th Republic. The position does not look markedly better if we look at vote shares, where the RN (plus other far-right parties such as Reconquête gathered in the first round 22.92%, up from 13.5% for similar parties in the comparable contest five years ago. A brighter sign was that the left-wing alliance NUPES gained 142 seats, though the domination of the NUPES by its figurehead, the left-nationalist Eurosceptic Jean-Luc Mélenchon opens the probabilty that its constituent elements will fragment in all directions quite early on.

That Emmanuel Macron and his right-centrist Ensemble group have not got a majority is hardly a bad thing in itself, but it is likely that far from seeking a compromise with the left (if one were really on offer) he will rely on the support of the right-wing Gaullist Les Républicains party, and so we can expect right-wing austerity coupled with ideological competition with the far right around an anti-immigrant and Islamophobic agenda.
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