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June 11, France holds elections to the lower house of parliament (National Assembly). According to the French legislation, parliamentary elections are held in two rounds by universal suffrage, shortly after the presidential elections. The second round of elections to the National Assembly will be held on June 18. 7,882 candidates from more than 20 parties will compete for 577 seats in the French parliament. Despite the fact that in France the president has key powers in the sphere of foreign policy and defense, he loses his political weight without the parliamentary majority. The National Assembly develops and adopts laws, approves the allocation of funds from the budget. Without legislative support from the parliamentarians, the president would not be able to implement his program.
For Ukraine, the outcome of the parliamentary elections in France is of particular importance. France is a member of the "Normandy Four" and participates in the settlement of Donbas conflict. Paris together with Berlin, London, and Washington, is one of the guides of the policy of sanctions against Russia. The results of the elections to the National Assembly would show how the legislative power of France would support the initiatives of President Emmanuel Macron regarding the containment of Russia's aggression.
Centrists go "Forward!"
For Kyiv, it would be preferable that, following the results of the elections to the National Assembly, the parliamentary majority (289 seats) would be formed by the centrist party "Forward!", created last year by President Emmanuel Macron. During a recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Versailles, the French president demonstrated his reluctance to make concessions to the Russian side. Macron threatened Vladimir Putin with "punitive measures" in response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, criticized the persecution of gays in Chechnya and called the Russian media deceitful. Earlier, he urged the EU to strengthen its opposition to Russia's interference in European political processes. Macron agrees with the position of the G7 regarding the preservation of anti-Russian sanctions until the Kremlin ceases military operations in Donbas.
526 candidates from the "Forward!" party would take part in the elections. In their pre-election program, centrists promise to reduce taxes for business, cut government spending by 60 billion euros, reduce the apparatus of state employees, create new jobs, invest 50 billion euros in programs for labor retraining and development of alternative energy for five years. The president's party is oriented both to supporters of the left and right positions.
Party "Forward!" might get the parliamentary majority. According to OpinionWay poll, this party can get 335-355 seats in the parliament. Sociologists from Ipsos believe that the centrists would get 395-425 seats. According to the results of the voting on June 3-4, "Forward!" won in 10 of 11 foreign polling stations. French voters have not yet radically changed their minds after the presidential campaign of Emmanuel Macron. "Forward!" is associated directly with the president. In the first round of the presidential election, when several candidates fought for the post of head of state, 24% of French citizens voted for Macron, and in the second - 66%.
At the same time, the party "Forward!" has its own weaknesses. A significant number of party members who claim deputy mandates are "dark horses". On the one hand, the party "Forward!" might be supported by the French citizens, who are disillusioned with the Socialist Party of Francois Hollande and the Republicans party of Nicolas Sarkozy. On the other hand, among the party members who claim the deputy mandate, there are people who are not connected with issues of public administration and economy - former bullfighter Marie Sara, military pilot Marion Buchet, mathematician Cedric Villani. Ukraine has already faced the consequences of electing to the people's deputies some participants of the EuroMaidan and volunteer battalions, such as the Cossack Havrilyuk and Nadia Savchenko, who proved to be populists in politics. Some voters can simply vote for other parties because of distrust of unknown politicians.
Chances of left and right
If the party "Forward!" does not get enough seats in the parliament following the results of the elections, it is likely that Emmanuel Macron will consider the possibility of forming a coalition with other parties. Such thoughts are prompted by the composition of the "provisional government" formed on May 15, which is legitimate until the end of the elections and the formation of a new government. After the victory of Macron in the second round of presidential elections, former Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced the resignation of the Socialist government.
Macron has appointed Edward Philip, mayor of the city of Le Havre, to the post of Prime Minister, Mayor of Lyon Gérard Collomb – to the post of Minister of Internal Affairs, former Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian – to the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs, who are members of the Socialist Party. The President appointed François Bayrou Minister of Justice and Minister of Defense Sylvie Goulard from the centrist "Democratic Movement". François Bayrou refused to participate in the presidential elections in favor of Emmanuel Macron. Deputy from the "Republicans" Bruno Le Maire became the Minister of Economy. Macron demonstrates to influential parties that he is open to negotiations on the creation of a coalition in parliament.
As the presidential elections has shown, the positions of the Socialist Party and the Republican Party were not so monolithic in the French society. Candidates of the "Republicans" Francois Fillon and socialist Benoit Amon were defeated in the first round of the presidential elections. Socialists are unhappy because of their inability to solve social and economic problems, to resolve the migration crisis in France and to protect citizens from the threat from Islamic extremists. According to the OpinionWay poll, the Republicans have a chance to occupy 145-165 seats, while the Socialists have 20-35 seats in the parliament following the results of the elections. Coalition with "Forward!" could be an opportunity for socialists or Republicans to gain access to power.
Macron would more easier agree on a coalition with the Socialist Party, in which he participated in 2006-09. Centrists and Socialists have common positions on some political issues, including deepening European integration, pursuing a liberal migration policy, intensifying the fight against terrorism and continuing the policy of sanctions against Russia. "Republicans" might not agree with Emmanuel Macron on the future of European integration. Macron is a federalist and stands for strengthening the power of the supranational bodies of the EU. "Republicans" support the strengthening of the influence of national governments on the issues of economy, migration and welfare, migration policy in the EU. They support banning migrant’s importation of their families to the European countries. Francois Fillon sees no point in extending the anti-Russian sanctions and considers annexed Crimea part of Russia from a historical and linguistic point of view.
Is revanche of the Eurosceptics possible?
According to Bloomberg, as a result of the upcoming elections, the far-right party of French Eurosceptics "National Front" of Marine Le Pen might take 22 seats in the National Assembly, and the ultra-leftist party "Unbowed France" Jean-Luc Mélenchon can get some 25-35 seats. Despite different ideology these parties are united by the similar positions on political issues - reforming the European Union and increasing the freedom of national governments in making decisions on a pan-European scale, as well as rapprochement with Russia. Marine Le Pen advocates the abolition of anti-Russian sanctions and the recognition of Crimea as part of Russia. Jean-Luc Mélenchon supports the withdrawal of France from NATO and the idea of forming a common European security space jointly with Russia as an alternative.
We should not underestimate their chances of getting their vote in the French parliament. According to the results of the first round of the presidential elections, 18% of the French voted for Jean-Luc Mélenchon. In the second round, Marine Le Pen has got more than a third of the votes of French voters. "National Front" is traditionally supported in some northern regions of France and on the southern coast. If the National Front can take at least 15 seats in the National Assembly following the election (now it takes 2 seats), Marine Le Pen will be able to form a parliamentary group and get more time for speeches before the deputies and opportunities for more active activity within the legislative branch.
Marine Le Pen’s party might be supported by those French citizens, who are concerned about the growing terrorist threat from Islamic extremists in the light of the series of terrorist attacks in the UK. Part of the French are interested in tightening the migration regime and reducing the reception of refugees who may be carriers of a terrorist threat.