Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s red-green alliance won the first round of the French legislative elections, giving him a chance to challenge President Emmanuel Macron for control of the National Assembly in the final round of voting at the weekend -end next.
The results showed that Mélenchon’s alliance – the New Popular Ecological and Social Union (Nupes) – and Macron’s centrist Ensemble (Ensemble) were the main winners in Sunday’s vote and would be the two biggest groups in the Assembly.
Mélenchon’s success, however, is unlikely to translate into a majority in the 577-seat assembly, as moderate voters wary of his reputation as a far-left, eurosceptic brandon are expected to rally to Macron’s side in the run-off. June 19.
Macron’s group will remain the largest bloc in the assembly and should end up with between 260 and 295 seats, compared to 160-210 for Mélenchon’s, according to Elabe voting group. A party or alliance needs 289 seats for an absolute majority.
Mélenchon called on voters to “rush” to the polls for next Sunday’s runoff “to definitively reject Mr Macron’s disastrous plans” and have their say after “30 years of neoliberalism”.
Élisabeth Borne, Macron’s prime minister, criticized the political “extreme” that oppose her government and said: “We are the only political force capable of obtaining a majority in the National Assembly. . . Given the global situation and the war on Europe’s doorstep, we cannot take the risk of instability.
Each constituency elects its own to delegate, and in most cases, the voters’ choice fell from a dozen candidates to just two in the second round. In many, the second round will be played between the candidate of Macron and that of Mélenchon.
The results, seven weeks after Macron defeated far-right leader Marine Le Pen and convincingly won a second term as president, mark a dramatic comeback for the French left after five years in the political wilderness.
Under Mélenchon – a 70-year-old political veteran who came third in the presidential election just behind Le Pen and who previously announced he would retire – the left will at least be able to mount vocal opposition in parliament to the Macron’s legislative program as he seeks to pursue economic reforms.
In 2017, after sweeping his socialist and center-right rivals to win his first term as president, Macron saw his candidates take full control of the assembly. This time, if his centrist alliance Together does not obtain a majority in the assembly, the president will have to find the support of other parties like the conservatives Les Républicains to pass laws, for example to extend the retirement age. from 62 to 65 for its plans to reform the pension system.
In the unlikely event that Mélenchon’s Nupes alliance wins a majority next week, Macron would remain in charge of foreign policy and defense but would have to appoint a prime minister who has the support of more than half of members of the Assembly and “coexist” with a government hostile to its economic policy.
Like citizens of other liberal democracies, including the United States, the French have in recent years grown increasingly disillusioned and turned to nationalist and populist politicians. Interior ministry results showed more than half of French voters did not bother to vote on Sunday, with a record turnout of 47.5% for this type of election.
French politics is now divided into three main camps, with Macron and his allies at the centre, Le Pen leading anti-immigration nationalists on the far right, and Mélenchon leading his new left-green alliance, which includes his own La France Insoumise and the socialist and communist parties.
According to Elabe, Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party will win between 25 and 35 seats, while Les Républicains and their center-right allies will take 50 to 65 seats.
Among those who failed to make the cut in Sunday’s election was far-right TV talk show star Eric Zemmour, who had already lost in the presidential race and did not could not replace Le Pen at the head of the French extreme right.
In the first round of the presidential election in April, almost 60% of French voters chose a far-right or far-left candidate.