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Macron’s second ‘grenade’: Will Centrists-Left election ‘arrangement’ stave off far-right?

Macron's second 'grenade': Will Centrists-Left election 'arrangement' stave off far-right?

New Delhi, July 7 (SocialNews.XYZ) The French are voting on Sunday in the second round of the crucial parliamentary elections, with President Emmanuel Macron's centrists in a tacit alliance of convenience with the second-placed hard-left ensemble to ward off the far-right, which topped the first round. But does Macron's second risky gambit in two months - "a second grenade" - have any chance of success?

The chances appear minimal in the high-stakes election, which will not only determine his - and France's - fate but is likely to impact that of Europe and the European Union.

 

Smarting from his party's defeat to the far-right in the European Parliament elections in June, Macron took a major gamble. His largely unilateral decision to call snap parliamentary elections, seemingly leaving his own government taken aback - as per their shocked expressions in a photo of the cabinet meeting - was reportedly likened by him to throwing "an unpinned grenade at their (far-right's) feet".

However, the explosion seems to have backfired - quite spectacularly - on Macron and his party.

Le-Pen's party surged far ahead to end up with almost a third of the vote in an election, which saw the highest turnout in several decades, the New Popular Front, of a gamut of Left parties, was in second place, and Macron's Ensemble the distant third with just a fifth of the vote.

Following this, came Macron's second desperate gambit or "second grenade" - of entering into a loose alliance with the Left alliance to prevent division of votes and set up one-to-one contests against the National Rally in the second round.

While 289 seats are required to win a majority, the complex French political system entails a second round, in which candidates, whose support did not reach 12.5 per cent of all locally registered voters in the first round, are eliminated. Only those who secure 50 per cent of the vote with a turnout of at least one-fourth of the local electorate win automatically in the first round.

It is the second round, to slightly over 500 seats of the 577-member Assembly, that is taking place on Friday and is liable to throw up a range of outcomes.

One eventuality could be that Marie Le-Pen's far-right National Rally, with the youthful Jordan Bardella its face, retains its surge to attain a majority - or get close to it - in the Assembly, despite the hastily cobbled-up alliance against it.

This was the likely prospect till a few days ago but seems a bit difficult now.

A final opinion poll, conducted by Ipsos-Talan for Le Monde, France Televisions and Radio France on Friday, had the National Rally peaking at around 210, followed by the New Popular Front approaching 180, but Macron's Ensemble only near 140.

Even if the arrangement which saw either Macron's Ensemble members or members of the Left alliance withdraw from nearly 300 of the 500 seats up for grabs in the second round to set up a one-to-one fight with Le-Pen's party, succeeds, the beneficiary will not be Macron himself.

This particular outcome is also predicated on the ability of Macron's party and the Left to ensure the seamless and comprehensive transfer of votes to each other's remaining candidate and whether the people will accept it, It must be recalled that Macron, till the first round, was telling the people that the victory of either the far-right or the hard left was likely to lead to a "civil war" in the nation.

Even if, the centrists and the resurgent left manage a majority, it makes for an uneasy alliance between the two forces, and in any way, hamstring Macron's ability to pass legislation. Cohabitation, as this eventuality is generally called, with different parties holding the presidency and the majority in the parliament is not unprecedented in French politics, having occurred thrice in the previous four decades - and not very successfully.

It happened twice in the term of Socialist President Francois Mitterrand (1981-95), when he had to share power with conservative Prime Ministers Jacques Chirac (1986-88) and Edouard Balladur (1993-95). Chirac, who became President himself in 1995, faced the same situation in 1997-2002 when his decision to call a snap parliamentary election led to the victory of the socialists led by Lionel Jospin.

It is Chirac's step that Macron seems to have followed but only time will reveal the particular outcome for him.

However, while Macron has asserted his intention to remain President till the end of his term in 2027, irrespective of the result of the parliamentary election, the victory of his antagonists - whether from left or right - would shadow his remaining years in power, given he cannot call another election for another year.

Grenades can be rather unpredictable weapons, as Macron is learning - much to his present disadvantage and to his legacy.

(Vikas Datta can be contacted at vikas.d@ians.in)

Source: IANS

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Macron's second 'grenade': Will Centrists-Left election 'arrangement' stave off far-right?

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