French elections: People ditch the far right again

The French have once again rejected the far right from taking power. Despite significant victories in the European elections and the initial round of the parliamentary elections, the National Rally (RN) was ultimately pushed back when the final vote was held. This unexpected result has left the RN in third place, with approximately 150 seats instead of the nearly 300 predicted a week ago, due to a large voter turnout aimed at stopping them.

The RN will likely argue that their setback was because other parties united against them. Parties from the left, which typically have many differences, formed a new anti-RN coalition, and even the Macronites joined forces with the left. The only common ground among these parties, ranging from the center-right Edouard Philippe to the Trotskyist left’s Philippe Poutou, was their opposition to the RN, which could indicate future instability.

Regardless, the majority of French voters do not support the far right, either due to disagreement with its ideas or fear of the unrest it might cause. Thus, Jordan Bardella will not become the next prime minister, but the question of who will take the position remains unanswered. Unlike previous French parliamentary elections, this time it might take weeks to resolve.

According to veteran political analyst Alain Duhamel, the French political system has fundamentally changed, with no single dominant party. Since Macron’s rise to power seven years ago, political forces have been deconstructed, and a period of reconstruction may be beginning. Now, multiple political forces exist: three major blocs (left, far-right, and center) and the center-right, each with internal divisions.

A lengthy negotiation process is expected to form a new coalition from the center-right to the left, despite the mutual animosity among the potential coalition partners. President Macron will likely call for a period of conciliation, extending through the Olympics and summer holidays, to allow for a political respite. During this time, he will appoint someone to lead negotiations with the different parties, though it remains uncertain whether this leader will come from the left, the center, or be a political outsider.

France is likely moving towards a more parliamentary system where power will shift from President Macron to the head of the new government. Even if Macron succeeds in placing a centrist as prime minister, that individual will wield power independently, supported by parliamentary backing. Macron, who cannot run again in 2027, will become a diminished figure.

Despite this, Macron will not see this as a loss. He might argue that he called the elections to address an untenable situation, clarified politics, gave the RN a fair share of Assembly seats, and confirmed his belief that the French would not allow the far right to take power. While Macron’s power may be waning, he remains active at the Elysée, consulting with his team, influencing politicians, and maintaining his political presence.

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