There is one thing that Emmanuel Macron has got wrong in his planning for this French electoral spring. His most urgent rival was Marine Le Pen, but the most dangerous was Jean-Luc Mélenchon. He was already on the verge of eliminating the ultra-rightist and going to the second round in the presidential elections and now he has managed to shake up these legislative elections, elections that are characterized by being bland and almost uninteresting, but which are crucial because they are the ones that give the president margin to govern.
The tie between the coalition of Emmanuel Macron, centrist and pro-European, and that of Nupes, the left wing led by the Eurosceptic Melenchon in the first round of the legislative elections held on Sunday, has caused a surprise and puts on notice a Macron who focused on create a front against the extreme right and underestimated the threat posed by the leader of France Insumisa.
The electoral hangover was carried out this Monday by the controversy over the vote count. France is a country where one thinks that the security device for a Champions League final is going to work, and where one does not think for a moment that there may be suspicions of tongo.
The Mélenchon camp believes so and accused the Ministry of the Interior, Gérarld Darmanin, (the same one who had to give explanations for the chaotic device in the Champions League final two weeks ago) of manipulating the figures to give the coalition of Macron. According to official results, the president’s alliance had 25.75% support, compared to 25.66% for Nupes, the leftist. This claims 26.1% support against 25.8% Ensemble. There are around 300,000 votes in limbo, between the figures of one and the other.
Unsubmissive France has denounced the “dishonest practices” of the Interior. “The results of the ministry do not count within the Nupes votes for candidates who were supported or within our alliance,” defends Mélenchon’s party in a statement.
The prime minister, Élisabeth Borne, called Mélenchon a liar in a meeting with the candidates of the presidential field. Some media such as Le Monde or the AFP agency gave Nupes a slight advantage. The French newspaper alleges that there are candidates that the Interior has not included in the left-wing alliance.
Each side is aware of what is at stake and that is why this furious second campaign has already begun between two rounds. Macron risks being able to govern with greater ease, if he achieves an absolute majority next Sunday, or on the contrary, having to deal with an adverse Parliament when it comes to applying his reforms. Some of them, like pensions for example, would have strong opposition.
It needs 289 seats. At the moment it does not have it, since the projections give it between 270 and 310 seats for next Sunday. The other two scenarios are that he has a relative majority, which would force him to seek alliances (with the Republican party, for example, which came fourth with 13% of the vote) or that it is the left-wing coalition that achieves a majority. .
This option is the most unlikely, but it would be a nightmare for Macron, since his entire program would be stuck and he would also have to choose a prime minister from that parliamentary majority. Mélenchon believes that there are possibilities and has asked for the vote of those who did not vote on Sunday, in a day with a record abstention.
In the Macronist camp, they stir up the vote of fear of extremes, assuring that any scenario that is not a parliamentary majority on the presidential side will generate instability in France. They appeal to a cordon sanitaire, this time not to stop the extreme right, as in April, but the radical left.
The deputies of the presidential coalition will face leftist candidates in 271 constituencies, and Le Pen’s party in 107. The debate focuses on whether or not to get a vote for next Sunday in those places where the two extremes face each other: a Mélenchon candidate and another from Le Pen’s party. This duel will take place in more than fifty constituencies.
The presidential coalition is not interested in Mélenchon’s alliance advancing, since it is the one that threatens to take away his majority, but it cannot ask for a vote slogan for Le Pen’s ranks either. There are other ministers who believe that “it is necessary to see case by case”, given that there are candidates from the left “who are more radical than those from the extreme” and others who are not.
The Prime Minister, Élisabeth Borne, asked on Monday not to vote for Le Pen’s candidates for deputy in the 58 constituencies where they face those of Nupes. “If there is a candidate in Nupes who does not respect republican values, who insults our police officers or who wants to leave Europe, then we ask not to vote for him,” she clarified.
Although he continues to start with an advantage, Emmanuel Macron leaves this first round weakened. It is the first time that a newly elected president has not achieved a majority in the first round of the legislative elections, taking advantage of the momentum of the presidential elections. “We still have a week to get a strong and clear majority,” said Borne, after bringing together the candidates who passed the screening.
Two details to take into account: The far-right Éric Zemmour was eliminated on Sunday and in the 12 constituencies of Seine Saint-Denis, the emaciated Parisian periphery, the Nupes candidates won.
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