NewsLeft-wing surge in France sparks political turmoil for Macron

Left-wing surge in France sparks political turmoil for Macron

Post-election rally of the leftist New People's Front in Paris after the victorious parliamentary elections
Post-election rally of the leftist New People's Front in Paris after the victorious parliamentary elections
Images source: © East News | Marta Darowska/REPORTER

3:56 PM EDT, July 8, 2024

The left-wing New People's Front won the most seats in the parliamentary elections in France, but it does not have an absolute majority in the National Assembly. According to Andrzej Byrt, a former Polish ambassador in Paris, if President Emmanuel Macron appoints a left-wing government, it will cause a wave of friction and conflicts.

In the second round of parliamentary elections in France, the alliance of left-wing parties, the New People's Front (NFP), won the most seats, 182. In second place was President Emmanuel Macron's political camp, which won 168 seats. The far-right National Rally came in third with 143 seats.

The Republicans, on the other hand, secured 45 seats. The National Assembly will also include 15 deputies from right-wing parties who did not join Marine Le Pen's alliance and 13 left-wing deputies from outside the New People's Front.

An absolute majority in the 577-seat National Assembly requires 289 seats. The National Rally, despite securing the most votes, will not form a government on its own.

Despite the left's victory in the elections, it is unclear whether the New People's Front will form the new government. Why? The political system of the Fifth Republic was designed to ensure a majority for the presidential formation. As a result, coalitions are rarely built in France. Macron has already announced that he will wait for the new parliament to convene before deciding who will be tasked with forming the government. The constitution grants the French president the exclusive power to nominate the prime minister.

"They don't really have a choice"

The post-election scenario will depend on the discussions between left-wing leaders and President Emmanuel Macron. He will assess whether the left-wing parties can form a stable government.

After the election results were announced, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of Unsubmissive France—the far-left party and the largest force in the New People's Front—gave a rather insolent interview where he said that the president had no choice but to appoint someone from his party as prime minister.

He also ruled out the possibility of forming a broader coalition with non-left-wing parties. He stated that Emmanuel Macron must appoint a left-wing coalition government. Macron said the left's program was worse than Marine Le Pen's even before the first round. After such statements, it will be hard for them to get along. But they don't have a choice; they must reach an agreement.

The election result means one thing—a new government in France will not be formed quickly.

If it is formed, it may be a minority left-wing government. A broad coalition of the left with the presidential camp or a technical, possibly apolitical government is also possible. If implemented, the left-wing program could be very costly for France and would surely exceed the social spending proposed by Marine Le Pen's party.

"Adding costs"

The left wants to challenge Macron's "pet project," the pension reform, enforced through a special procedure allowed by the French constitution, which permits pushing the issue through even without a majority of votes. The French president will defend this reform to the end. The left has also announced tax increases to finance other ideas, including raising the minimum wage. Today, France is in debt at 110% of its GDP. The left's program means adding costs, and France will get even more indebted.

In his opinion, the key question is whether the left will want and be able—within the government—to fulfill their pre-election promises.

If so, Macron may oppose it. In terms of foreign policy, nothing will change. However, the president who conducts it must rely on goodwill regarding funds for the new government. Both the left and Le Pen are critical of the extent of arms supplies to Ukraine, but unlike the far right, the left supports Ukraine's right to defend itself against Russian aggression.

The former diplomat does not doubt that domestic policy will differentiate the new government from the president.

Macron will likely not agree to tax increases. The left wants, for example, to increase wealth taxes. They believe that people who inherited wealth from wealthy families and turned it into their income source should pay higher taxes to the state. In this way, they would contribute to financing poorer French citizens.

In his view, realizing the left-wing program, which includes salary and minimum wage increases and freezing the prices of basic groceries and energy, is "adding costs to an already enormous French public debt."

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