youOnce set in motion, degagism turns out to be an electoral mechanism that is almost impossible to stop. Brought to power by this powerful phenomenon of rejection, of his predecessors as well as of his competitors from the traditional parties, Emmanuel Macron will prefer to have escaped him by obtaining his re-election as President of the Republic, almost two months ago. Alas, it is the absolute majority he claimed in the National Assembly which has just been hit hard by this desire to renew heads and upset established situations which seem to hold French voters. On the evening of this second round of the legislative elections, Mr. Macron finds himself faced with an inventory just as unprecedented as that which had been dressed when he entered the Elysée, five years earlier.
A sanction vote, without equivalent after such a recent re-election, almost halved the number of deputies of his party, LRM, within a coalition, Together!, which lacks more than forty seats to reach an absolute majority, when it was so broad during the first five-year term. He therefore had to resign himself to a relative majority much more tenuous, more isolated, and infinitely less than that which François Mitterrand had faced with his Prime Minister, Michel Rocard, after his re-election in 1988.
This major political upheaval brought many disappointments to the presidential camp during the evening: three ministers defeated, many figures from the party and the parliamentary group beaten – including Christophe Castaner and Richard Ferrand, pillars of the conquest and then the exercise of power – will require a deep recomposition of the physiognomy of Macronie. But it is a figure which seals, more than all the others, the failure of the president. In the new National Assembly will sit, according to the accounts of the World, 91 MPs from the far right, including 89 from the National Rally. This number represents three times the historic peak reached by Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front in 1986. This time without proportional representation, as was the case at the time. It was in the majority ballot, reputedly penal for her troops, that Marine Le Pen won this success at the end of a campaign so relaxed that she herself made it the first surprise.
Faced with this extreme right, an electoral mechanism, much less solid than the ambient degagism, was broken: the republican front. By dint of past sprains, it was in fact already quite out of order. But it was the presidential party that dealt him the fatal blow, in between the two rounds of these legislative elections, by not giving national instructions to beat the RN candidates, while Emmanuel Macron owes a good part of it. his re-election against Marine Le Pen to the respect of this discipline between republican formations. On Sunday, this feeling of betrayal resulted in a general collapse of the Republican reflex: according to the polls, LRM voters did not move more than those of Nupes to block the way to an RN competitor. On the part of the outgoing majority, this lack of reciprocity does not only signify the cynicism of a short-sighted maneuver – which will have failed to harm its own result.
Depending on the circumstances
Above all, it constitutes, for Mr. Macron, a major denial of the principles displayed when his party was founded and the beginnings of his conquest of power. The quotations pronounced then are numerous and eloquent. The fight against the causes of the RN vote, and against the political formation that benefits from it, was a top priority. Never had any sign of equality been drawn between the far-right party – whose xenophobic roots have not changed – and the radical protest carried by Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France insoumise, whatever the grievances formulated at his meeting.
More recently, before the second round, borrowings were even made in the program and the slogans of the “rebellious” candidate, words brought to the attention of his supporters. Until the agreement reached within Nupes changed the balance of power and suddenly led to treating the coalition around Mr. Mélenchon as the greatest of perils, and as a proposal ” extreme “. At the risk of suggesting that this adjective serves above all to disqualify, depending on the circumstances, anything that hinders access and then the maintenance of power by Emmanuel Macron.
Sunday evening, a man was involuntarily the revealer of these calculations and these denials. Clément Beaune, Minister Delegate for Europe, narrowly snatched his seat as deputy for Paris after being one of the very few in his camp to call for a vote, without any ambiguity, against the RN candidates. Amid the carnage of the figures of the majority, his victory sounded like a welcome reminder of what was the proclaimed essence of macronism: an attachment to European construction viscerally linked to the rejection of far-right nationalism.
However, the failures of the presidential coalition do not explain, on their own, the historic number of RN deputies and the attraction that this party exerts on voters far from being all aware of the dangers hidden by the new protective postures of Marine The pen. The complacency lent by certain media, and some intellectuals, to the first months of Eric Zemmour’s campaign certainly accentuated the trouble, by pretending to believe that these racist and xenophobic delusions were compatible with a gathering of all the components of the right and its extreme. The delimitation of what can be said, and above all be done, in a democracy, never ceases to arouse irony. The blocking votes have become objects of mockery, the invocation of republican principles is assimilated to a noise of hardware.
During these legislative elections, the Republicans ended up paying the high price for this trivialization, seeing their number of deputies cut by more than a third. The RN will be able to form a more powerful group than theirs, and probably even claim the status of the second best represented party in the Assembly, ahead of rebellious France, the most extensive component of Nupes.
For the left, these elections will leave a taste of unfinished business. The union mechanism made it possible to enter the Hemicycle in force. The “rebellious” and the Greens obtain an unprecedented number of seats, the PS maintained its own at a level that the ratio of the scores between Anne Hidalgo and Jean-Luc Mélenchon did not augur well. But the number of votes obtained by the coalition has not really increased compared to the total of 2017, and the objective of installing the third man in the presidential election at Matignon is far from having been achieved. The coalition will have to do without the presence of its mentor to impose itself as the first opposition force, and give visibility to its proposals.
Faced with these two powerful blocs, given that for the time being Les Républicains refuse to become the nominating force for an absolute majority, what can Emmanuel Macron and his Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, do? Obviously not much if the president persists in the postures and errors that led to the failure of these legislative elections. The young elected from the first term, who wanted to embody all the attractions of novelty, has succeeded, in recent days, a majority leader ready to pull all the worn strings of the outgoing to save himself a real campaign: the refrain “me or chaos”, the appropriation of the symbols of the Republic, the excessive use of the function, the dissimulation of the program, the variable geometry denigration of the adversaries. In short, to consent to a hyper-presidentialization so caricatural that it invalidated in advance all promises of change.
The worst thing would be to persist in this tactic and play on time to remove the fact that the paralysis and the blockage are the result of the oppositions, by chomping at the bit until dissolution. Time no longer permits these tactical calculations. The years of the five-year term which are beginning constitute in fact a period of no return, where, on several fronts, decisions must imperatively be taken.
The heat of the days that marked this second round underlined how imperative action in the face of the climate crisis is becoming. Reforms and adaptations of our overconsumption societies must be introduced as soon as possible. The geopolitical crisis is currently taking the form of a war on our continent, and leads in the short term to a risk of economic shock, caused by shortages and inflation. The democratic crisis threatens to defeat the United States; in France, we have it before our eyes, it takes the form of an abstention which has never been so strong, and it has just sent nearly a hundred representatives of an extreme right party to Parliament. The conjunction of these dangers places, whether we watch it or not, an immense responsibility on the shoulders of the president who has been re-elected for the next five years.
By their vote, the voters did not deny him any ability, which he showed at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. But they seem to have summoned to radically change their method: no longer govern alone or almost, agree to debate, take the time to convince, compose instead of imposing. During the brief campaign broadcast, Mr. Macron had theorized, clumsily, a “refoundation” of democratic life away from national representation. The relative majority gives the opportunity to tackle it without delay, inside the Hemicycle.