Jupiter no longer.French voters brought Emmanuel Macron on Sunday fall to earth Just two months after he decisively won a second French presidency.
Not only Macron’s Ensemble coalition is far from an absolute majority in the second round of legislative elections. It may struggle to pass legislation easily and, predictably, will most likely gain support as the center-right dwindles and becomes unstable.
After winning re-election, Macron was positioned as the EU’s most powerful leader, unlike Italy’s Mario Draghi, who has a full five years in office, and unlike Germany’s Olaf Schultz, He may have a supermajority, but it may be a slim one. Now, he has neither the bipartisan appeal of Draghi nor the stability of a coalition deal backing Scholz.
Macron came to power in 2017 after positioning himself as a centrist bulwark against extremist political forces. He repeated the trick last month when voters were again reluctant to put far-right leader Marine Le Pen at the Elysee Palace. But the rise of political extremism during his tenure was highlighted only in Sunday’s vote.
Extremist parties will now control about half of the seats in parliament. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, an anti-American, Eurosceptic, Kremlin-friendly fighter, is now the undisputed leader of the opposition.
Melenchon deftly turned his third-place finish in the first round of the presidential election into a political victory. Under his iron fist, he has deftly assembled a coalition of the far left, socialists and the Greens. Deep differences on policy – especially with regard to the EU – were swept away. Together, from left. Notably, given how the presidential election revolved around center-right and far-right themes, with parliamentary contests skewed to the left, Macron appointed Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, with links to socialism, and echoing Mélenchon’s call, Ask for more national plans to tackle climate change.
It would be unfair to characterize all Nupes as extremist. But there is no doubt that the extreme left is in power. Mélenchon wanted to be elected prime minister in what would have been an excruciating cohabitation with the president. With that far from being achieved, Mélenchon can be expected to give Macron an all-out, uncompromising opposition.
Melenchon celebrated “routing” Macron’s party, saying it proved his strategy was right. But the bigger breakthrough may actually belong to Le Pen. Her National Assembly party could win 10 times as many seats as it did in 2017 and, crucially, outscore mainstream center-right Republicans.
Republicans appear to be doing better than their poor performance in the presidential election would suggest. They are obvious partners of Macron, who has used their policies and people. But they also have big differences in strategy and positioning. Being overtaken by the far right will only make them harder to deal with. On Sunday night, Republican Chairman Christian Jacobs’ first reaction was to say the party would continue to oppose it.
France has a high concentration of countries. Macron has taken it to the next level, centralizing power and marginalizing other institutions and civil society as he runs the country from his palace. Although not a rubber stamp, the council largely followed his orders. The next five years now look very different. After all, France is a parliamentary democracy.
The result is humiliation. Some of Macron’s closest political allies, including outgoing National Assembly speaker Richard Ferrand, and Macron’s party leader in parliament, Christoph Castaner, lost their seats. Many French voters will see the result as a rejection of an arrogant, over-personalized approach to governance. Others will worry that the country, fraught with social tensions, will fail to function, further eroding confidence in democracy and fueling extremist forces.
Macron has a mission of his own. The president has powers over foreign policy and defense, and can dissolve parliament in a paralyzed situation. He is nothing if not ideologically versatile. But saving his second term will require new political skills and some humility.