French far-left fire station puts Macron’s majority at risk in parliamentary vote – POLITICO

PARIS — Less than two months after being re-elected, Emmanuel Macron faces a faltering presidency as a result of a surge in support for far-left hot flash Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

According to official results, the left-wing NUPES alliance, backed by Mélenchon, is neck and neck with Macron’s Ensemble! coalition, with 25.66 percent and 25.75 percent respectively, in the first round of Sunday’s parliamentary elections.

The vote to elect representatives to the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, will take place in two rounds, with most seats decided in a second round next Sunday. The strong leftist performance on the first ballot will therefore not fully translate into seats, as the two-round system generally favors more centrist candidates.

But nonetheless, it will affect Macron’s parliamentary powers: The president needs 289 seats to gain an outright majority and implement his controversial reform program. Currently, his coalition has 345 seats and forecasts suggest that he will not only lose many of these seats, but also risk losing his majority. While seat projections should be taken with a grain of salt due to the two-stage format, polling station Ipsos predicted Macron’s coalition would gain 255 to 295 seats, 150 to 190 of them to NUPES.

For Mélenchon, who came third in April’s presidential election, Sunday’s results are already an achievement. The rise of his left-wing bloc marks a rebalancing of politics after years of domination by right-wing and far-right politicians.

“The truth is that the presidential party was defeated and undone after the first round,” the far-left leader said on Sunday. “In a democracy you have to convince. We convinced a lot.”

On Sunday, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne called on voters to support Macron’s coalition, calling it the only group “capable of [a parliamentary] majority.”

“In the face of extremes, we are the only ones offering a project of coherence, clarity and accountability,” she told supporters at party headquarters. “With the situation of the world and the war at Europe’s doorstep, we cannot take the risk of instability and approaches.”

Mélenchon’s rise, Macron’s roar

Mélenchon, who is anti-NATO and has vowed to ignore EU rules he does not agree with, rebounded after his third failed bid for presidency in April, rallying other defeated left-wing parties to join the coalition. close, containing the Greens, the Communist Party and the Socialists – former Mélenchon party. They could now become the largest opposition group in parliament if the results are confirmed.

That would knock the far-right National Rally off its spot as Macron’s longtime main rival: While National Rally’s Marine Le Pen won 39 percent in the second round of April’s presidential election against Macron, her party gained just 18.68 percent on Sunday. of the votes. Despite record results for the far right in the presidential election, Le Pen failed to capitalize on those gains and appeared to withdraw from the political scene ahead of the parliamentary election.

If Mélenchon repeats the surge in support in the second round of voting and the far-left force becomes the largest opposition group, Macron’s leadership will face vocal critics with greater legitimacy of voter support and a much larger media presence.

It will also turn Macron’s reform efforts during his second term in office into a messy process of negotiating legislation with rivals by bill — a major hurdle to such campaign promises as reducing the retirement age and reforming French schools and working conditions.

The French president had already expected such reforms to meet with strong opposition, especially from France’s strong unions, who traditionally take to the streets to make their voices heard about policies they don’t like. But his ambitions are in danger of being severely curtailed if he also struggles to get his legislation through parliament.

But that prospect didn’t seem to prompt Macron to ramp up his campaign ahead of the legislative vote: while Mélenchon dominated the headlines in the run-up to the vote, the French president barely campaigned and the ruling coalition was seen as the majority of the voters. to vote. defensively, trying to cast Mélenchon and his alliance as a threat to the country’s economic stability and international credibility.

Sunday’s disappointing results compared to the 58 percent support Macron won in April has already raised questions about the coalition’s lackluster and possibly overcautious campaign efforts. Recent weeks have also been dominated by bad press for the president, including allegations of hesitation about appointing a new government, the police fiasco at the Champions League final and allegations of sexual assault against one of Macron’s ministers.

Macron himself seemed to be taking a detached approach to the parliamentary campaign, perhaps hoping that Mélenchon’s excitement would fade.

For his part, Mélenchon had vowed to make the parliamentary election the “third round of the presidential election”, setting himself up as France’s next potential prime minister if he wins enough seats on the ballot to secure a majority and force Macron to a so-called cohabitation government, in which the president and the prime minister are from different parties. While this has always been an unlikely scenario, it is one that seems to have tickled Mélenchon’s supporters.

This article has been updated.