The Brief – Time to unite the French left – EURACTIV.com
Worries about the fragmentation of the French left may seem ominous, but it is nothing new. The signs have been there for some time.
Lionel Jospin was the first not to enter the presidential run-off against Jacques Chirac in 2002, edged out by Jean Marie Le Pen because his vote was eaten away by a plethora of smaller parties across the left-wing spectrum.
it was the first major warning that the French socialist party could not expect its candidate to always make it to the second round, simply because it had been the custom until now. These warnings, however, have never been heeded and, twenty years later, they have become an existential, and probably terminal, crisis.
The Socialist Party, which held the French presidency just five years ago, won less than 2% of the vote in the first round of the presidential election and is now forgotten. They have clearly been replaced by Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s far-left La France Insoumise, which offers a more populist version of socialism.
Despite their apparent uselessness, at least statistically, it is vital that what remains of the Socialists, but also of the Communist Party, and of the Greens of Yannick Jadot, swallow their pride and unite with Mélenchon before the June legislative elections if they want do something meaningful.
There are clearly defined blocks of the center and the nationalist right. On the right, Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour total around 30% of the votes, which, combined with part of the Republican vote, should give them for the first time a significant presence in the French Assembly.
The parties of Le Pen and Mélenchon, which have just obtained 45% of the vote between them, currently only have 23 of the 577 seats in the National Assembly, against 130 for the Socialists and the Republicans, who only obtained a measly 6.5% in the first presidential round, combined. It is inevitable that we will witness a great upheaval in the National Assembly.
With no obvious successor to Macron in five years – En Marche lacks strong ideological roots and has always been, in part at least, Macron’s personal political vehicle – the formation of the next National Assembly, and government, is particularly important, because France like the EU.
On the left, Mélenchon did not hide his hope of becoming Prime Minister. As well as massively increasing its own parliamentary representation, a cohesive left bloc will prevent the forces of Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour from taking dozens of seats, which is – probably – what France and the EU want. EU.
But as long as the raw numbers are there, an alliance is easier than it looks.
Leftists tend to dislike ideological rivals on their own side of the spectrum more than those on the right.
Francois Hollande, whose incompetent presidency has done more than most to render the Socialist Party irrelevant, now says an alliance with Mélenchon must be opposed because it would spell the demise of his former party.
In truth, this horse has probably already run away, so there’s no need to worry about the barn door. The question is whether pragmatism will prevail over personal vanity.
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Be careful with…
- Final plenary of the Conference on the Future of Europe, Saturday 30 April
- The European Parliament holds a plenary session on Monday (2 May)
- The Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council meets on Monday 2 May
The views are those of the author.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]