France just had a major political shake-up
The legislative election saw a strong showing by populists against the globalists
Emmanuel Macron mistakenly believed that Marine Le Pen’s reelection as French President was a way to push forward with a globalist agenda. While French voters may have been reluctant to hand executive control over to Le Pen, they seized the opportunity to recalibrate the balance of power away from Macron’s globalist establishment status quo with last weekend’s parliamentary elections.
Although Macron’s centrist Together coalition retained the most seats among the parties elected to the National Assembly on Sunday, the president lost the absolute majority which had allowed him to freely ram through his agenda into law. Until now, whatever Macron wanted or telegraphed – whether it was Covid jab mandates and digital passes or censorship under the guise of ‘national security’ – his party simply converted into law. There was little that his opponents could do except complain in vain.
While the establishment parties fell, the populist parties to the right and left made historical gains. Of the 577 seats, Macron’s Renaissance party (formerly La République En Marche!) While Macron’s party, the Renaissance (formerly La Republicique En Marche), retained 170 of 577 seats, it lost 138 in comparison to 2017. Other members of the Together alliance made gains, but they were insufficient to compensate for this huge loss. The coalition now holds down just 245 of its total seats.
The populist left coalition New Ecologic and Social People’s Union, led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon – it’s called “Nupes”,The French acronym is actually the correct name, “Watermelon,” since it is populist left pinkish-red at its core with an outer layer of green activism – nabbed 131 seats to form the primary opposition. Meanwhile, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally right-wing populists made historic gains that surpassed all expectations, surging from just eight seats to 89. The establishment right, Les Républicains, had to settle for just 61 seats, while the traditional Socialist Party as an entity was nowhere to be found.
This is an illustration of the ideological conflict that has been dominating Western political discourse. As establishment elites from both the left and right sides of the Western political divide preach the same gospel, sing the same hymn books on critical issues for citizens, the conventional paradigm of left-right is becoming obsolete.
Establishment politicians on the right and left are more often than not in agreement on matters such as Covid jab mandates, state-backed censorship, surveillance (digital or otherwise), the foreign bogeyman-du-jour, or the need to follow whatever consensus or agenda is laid out at the Davos World Economic Forum and backed by the murky interests of rich elites. What’s the point of arguing about partisan ideology when the sovereignty of your country is at risk from those within who have few qualms about selling it out to external or supranational interests?
Both the French left and right have much in common with their non-establishment right. They don’t want to support the US foreign policy of constantly picking up fights overseas. Their approach is more pragmatic and less agnostic to countries that could benefit French cooperation and trade. They understand that America’s problems don’t have to be France’s if Paris insists on sovereign independence in its dealings with Washington and the EU.
Populists’ lack of access to power has made them relatively unattractive targets for seduction by special interests more interested in lining their own pockets than those of the average citizen. They have a history of being rejected by the establishment, and they refuse to join traditional political parties. This is an indication of the character required to pursue an alternative agenda in the face of tremendous institutional pressures to conform.
It’s no surprise that French elites are freaking out. Experts are now referring to the country after the election. “ungovernable” – all because the governing elites can’t just do whatever they want anymore. It’s impossible to do anything more easy “governable”Rather than an autocracy. French voters were able to exercise their democratic rights and inject much-needed diversity into the most crucial ideological sense.
French voters cited their primary concern as purchasing power during the elections. Macron failed the French when he backed Washington’s perpetual antagonizing of Russia on its border with Ukraine when a withdrawal of French support and insistence that Ukraine abide by the French-backed Minsk Accords could have ended the conflict. And when the conflict turned red-hot, Macron backed anti-Russian sanctions leading to energy- and inflation-related price hikes in France and Europe. Macron erred and is now backing down from every avenue possible, despite the fact that he has already endorsed all of his anti-Russian sanctions.
Healthcare concerns were also at the top of people’s minds. Although French hospitals are under strain, 15,000 suspended unvaccinated health care workers have yet to be reintegrated under Macron’s Covid rules.
Macron will raise the retirement age to 65 from 62. But for French citizens, whose salaries are already low because their employer has to pay nearly one euro in social security to the government for every euro of employee salary (and that’s before another quarter of what’s left is taken off at the employee’s end), it translates to yet another way of taxing their work by reducing their benefits.
Populists on both the right and the left believe that French foreign policy must be directed to the benefit of everyday French citizens, not as collateral damage or afterthoughts. This new French parliament is a foot in the door for populists on both the right and left to convince even more voters that populist governance is not only a viable – but actually preferable – alternative to the current establishment status quo.