Macron won, but …
The traditional center-left and center-right in French politics are facing mounting troubles with each election, as support for the far-right continues to grow.
Emmanuel Macron defeated his rival, the far-right Marine Le Pen, a very significant result since the victory of a neofascist representative in France would have had a devastating impact on a European scale. However, the growth of his political force is still worrying: if in the second round of the 2017 elections she garnered 33.9 percent of the vote, in this Sunday's Le Pen climbed to 41.8 percent, while Macron decreased its electoral strength from 66.1 in 2017 to the current 58.2 percent.
Therefore, this advance of the extreme right could hardly be underestimated. Let us remember that in the presidential elections of 2002 the father of the current candidate and founder of the National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen, a rabid xenophobe, had obtained almost 18 percent of the votes, and entered in the run-off (ballotage), where he was defeated by Jacques Chirac. For the next presidential election (2007) he lost almost half of the votes, but his daughter fully recovered them, although it was not enough to enter in the second round, in 2012. For the next one, which took place in 2017, the extreme right almost doubled its electoral strength jumping from 18 to 34 percent of the votes in the run-off with Emmanuel Macron.
In last election, Marine Le Pen won 41.5 percent of the vote, an impressive record that does not bode well for the future of French politics and for immigrants living in France. Returning to Macron, it is clear that his ability to capture votes from his left or center-left was very limited, despite the fear that the eventuality of a presidency in the hands of Le Pen may have aroused. The neoliberal orthodoxy of his economic and social policies together with the managerial and arrogant style of his government and the ferocity of the repression ordered against the repeated protests of the "yellow vests" reduced its electoral base. It would not be wrong to say that Macron was elected more because of the fear his opponent aroused than because of the love professed by large sectors of French society. It was, as the IPSOS pollster assures, “a vote without enthusiasm.”
These elections showed another facet that describes in a certain sense the prevailing social mood in France: they had the lowest rate of citizen participation since the presidential election of 1969, the same one that installed Georges Pompidou in the Elysée Palace after the political earthquake unleashed by the resignation of the General Charles de Gaulle. It could be an exaggeration -although not entirely inaccurate- to speak of a "pyrrhic victory" for Macron because in just over a month, on June 12, legislative elections will be held to renew the 577-member National Assembly and the first polls conducted by IPSOS on Sunday night reveal that the new composition of the National Assembly could perhaps be a serious setback for Macron.
That apparent incongruence: a victory in the presidential election and a defeat in the legislative would not be a total anomaly in France, because there have already been three cases of "cohabitation" in the past. In 1986 François Mitterrand, the socialist president, appointed the Gaullist Jacques Chirac as his prime minister after his victory in the legislative elections that year; and in 1993 Mitterrand had to entrust the formation of the government to the conservative Édouard Balladur.
Finally, between 1997 and 2002, Chirac as president had to appoint the socialist Lionel Jospin as prime minister. That seems to be the bet of the leader of the leftist France Insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who has called on his numerous supporters (he obtained almost 22 percent in the first round) to close ranks and build an electoral majority in the National Assembly to erect a formidable barrier against Macron's “recharged” neoliberal project.