Incomplete elections: Why it's too early for Macron celebrating victory over Le Pen?

Author : Stefan Dehnert

Source :

In a month we will see new elections – French people will vote for a new parliament
21:03, 8 May 2017

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On May 7 the decisive duel in the presidential elections took place in France. Emmanuel Macron in a fight with Marine Le Pen obtained a confident victory, so immediately after closing the polling stations the National Front leader acknowledged her defeat in the battle for the presidency.

But can we talk about defeat of Le Pen with an unprecedented 35% of the vote?

Because elections in France were not completed on Sunday. In a month there will be new elections in France – people will vote for a new parliament.

We recall that Emmanuel Macron – is a non-party candidate. But he cannot govern alone, the new leader of France needs the support of Parliament.

That is why we can talk about the final victory of Macron only after the results of parliamentary elections on 11 and 18 June (held in two rounds).

Meanwhile Le Figaro newspaper published the results of a survey which shows: voters are going to overcome the long tradition of French politics.

15 years ago electoral reform was introduced in France, parliamentary elections were appointed immediately after the presidential in order to ensure guaranteed majority in the legislative body to the new head of state.

But now for the first time the president will not have "his" parliament.

According to the survey, 49% of voters do not want Macron to have a majority in the National Assembly, 34% would like to provide him such an opportunity.

To understand the situation, we publish an article of German researcher Stefan Dehnert of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, dedicated to this issue.

So which parties will support Macron?

Emmanuel Macron comes into the fight, claiming his own majority. During the free nomination of candidates his Forward movement will choose among nearly 15,000 applicants one candidate in each constituency and send them to the election process.

Macron himself does not want to specifically influence the election process, but formulated selection criteria. Rule due to French voters have always given their own majority to the newly elected President should remain in place in the case of Macron and his movement Forward.

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If this assumption was completely accurate, then this text could remain unfinished. In fact, one can hardly expect results like that.

Majoritarian electoral law for parliamentary elections provides that to the second round comes only candidate who received at least 12.5% of the vote in his constituency. So, there is a possibility of three or even four candidates in the second round.

In the past, the result of this situation usually became agreements between the close parties on the eve of the second round.

Macron unlikely will do that, as an important element of his campaign, he made the denial of any political alliances with recognized parties, so such a move would give him more harm than good.

In addition, although the French electorate is conservative for the most part, but the scandal around Francois Fillon would not play a big role in the parliamentary elections of candidates in constituencies. But without the votes of conservative voters candidates from the Forward movement may lose.

So if Macron would not have his own parliamentary majority, there are three possible scenarios.

First, one of the major factions could make a coalition with him. This would be an innovation for the French policy from the time of creation of de Gaulle's Fifth Republic.

Second, and this is more likely, his policy could be supported without a formal coalition agreement.

Third, as an exception, there is a possibility of coexistence policy (Cohabitation), during which the president runs the country with the Prime Minister, supported by the opposition. This is the option chosen by citizens surveyed by Le Figaro.

To implement his social-liberal program it is necessary for Macron to attract the social-democratic wing as part of the Socialist Party. But he can’t build a strong state with troublemakers, as evidenced by his own experience of two years in office.

In this case, he should look to the right, toward the Republican Party, which is not that far from thoughts of Emmanuel Macron in matters of economic policy and the labor market.

However, you should not expect here a coalition according to German model. Instead, the movement "Forward!" could try to form a parliamentary majority and make cohabitation with Prime Minister from Republicans.

But this scenario also has some risk. With this strategy the president will be forced to make significant concessions that would decisively change its program and as a result, sooner or later lead to new elections.

And variations of alliance with the Socialists are still possible. If the Socialist Party will be able to slightly change format final before the approval of candidates for the parliamentary elections in about a week after the second round on May 7 and if the social-liberal wing, led by Manuel Valls will achieve a strong centrist orientation of the party, the chances of this scenario look much better.

Formulating its program, Macron did not intend to offend neither right nor left political camp.

For example, he said that in principle he does not call into question untouchable for socialists 35-hour working week. Instead, it would be better to provide reservation capabilities that should allow employers and employees of individual enterprises to deviate from the existing rules.

And his course on the economy is not as hard as it has been often portrayed in caricatures.

Moreover Macron wants to invest 50 billion euros in environmental transformation, education and training, health and agriculture. These funds are necessary to finance the structural change and should not be regarded as long-term costs.

However, his desire to cut 120,000 jobs in the civil service within five years of his presidency certainly could be one of the most serious obstacles in cooperation with the Socialists.

Whichever option eventually wins, the decisive fact regarding the future of France and Europe will be whether political parties will mutually paralyze one another and whether it will be possible to embody enthusiasm of 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron to specific policies.

If not, the elections may become only a five-year delay before radical extremists’ victory.

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