Election Fever Grips Paris as Parties Scramble To Forge Alliances Just Days Ahead of Snap Parliamentary Vote

President Macron plays with fire even as a leading economist declares that ‘Macronism has collapsed.’

President Macron at the Elysee Palace at Paris, February 26, 2024. AP

Next to this, the Summer Olympics coming to Paris next month risks being a ripping bore. Following President Macron’s shock decision to dissolve l’Assemblée nationale, the powerful lower house of French parliament, the race is now on and all bets are off — except for one. 

Despite everything going on right now, a new poll for French television station LCI suggests that the National Rally will secure a third of the votes in the first round of voting on June 30. If the conservative Républicains manage to form an alliance with the populist party of Marine Le Pen, now led by Jordan Bardella, the total projection reaches 37 percent. 

At the same time, according to the poll, as of Monday the alliance of left-wing party stood at 28 percent with Mr. Macron’s Renaissance party coming in third with 18 percent. All of the Assemblée nationale’s 577 seats are now in play and up for grabs. 

The poll results suggest that Mr. Macron’s huge gamble, taken immediately following the dramatic gains of right-wing parties including the National Rally in European parliamentary elections earlier this month, could already be backfiring. As a columnist for the traditionally left-leaning Le Monde, Solen de Royer, put it, “Macron, who triggered this dissolution to trap the parties, has trapped himself.”

That’s not all Mr. de Royer reported. On Monday, June 10 — the day after the president dissolved parliament — Mr. Macron visited Oradour-sur-Glane, an infamous location where on June 10, 1944, the Nazis massacred 643 inhabitants. During the course of that visit, Mr. Macron reportedly told a businessman, “I’ve been preparing this for weeks, and I’m delighted. I’ve thrown my grenade at their legs. Now, we’ll see how they deal with it…”

While the Palais Elysée denies that conversation took place, Le Monde — France’s newspaper of record — stands by its report. 

Whether Mr. Macron’s decision to take aim at parliament will ultimately prove to be impetuous or prudent remains to be seen, but there is no question right now that he has flung open the lid on Pandora’s box.  

Some commentators have likened the frenzy of activity ahead of the first round of voting on June 30 to a megadose of reality television à la française, but the real outrage in the Parisian air is palpable. 

One of the things Mr. Macron’s maneuvering has done is to expose some of the structural flaws in the Fifth Republic. That’s because if the anti-immigrant, Eurosceptic National Rally makes serious inroads on his increasingly irrelevant liberal party, which looks likely, it could lead to a lengthy period of “cohabitation.”

That would be a period in which essentially any meaningful government activity — like passing a budget — would be frozen. It could also see Mr. Bardella, who is now arguably more Mr. Macron’s political nemesis than Ms. Le Pen, become the new prime minister — the current one, Gabriel Attal, is still seemingly missing in action. 

If all this seems more difficult to keep up with than the Kardashians, don’t say the Sun didn’t warn you. 

Along with the political storm, the instability roiling France may be taking an economic toll, too. Reports of French stocks taking a drubbing as the National Rally moves toward center stage are probably overblown.

The French economist Thomas Piketty told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, “It is certain that the markets would prefer to keep Macron in power forever and without elections. But they should understand that it is not possible.” He added that the conflict in France is now between only left and right and that “Macronism has collapsed.”

The New York Sun

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