And the Winner is: Ni Droite, Ni Gauche, mais Extrême Droite
Although the definitive results are not yet in, one thing is already clear: President Macron has suffered a major defeat, while Jean-Luc Mélenchon has fallen considerably short of the goal he set for himself. The big winner of the evening is Marine Le Pen, who is projected to emerge with 89 deputies, far more than predicted, and more than either Les Républicains (78) or Mélenchon’s France Insoumise (86 out of 149 for la NUPES as a whole).
Ensemble!’s share is significantly smaller than expected, which limits Macron’s options. Even with support from EELV and the Socialists, he would not have enough votes to form a majority. His best option would be to try to forge a coalition government with LR, as Jean-François Copé has in fact already proposed, but it’s by no means certain than such a coalition can be formed or that it would be stable if it were. He will at the very least be forced to name a new government: although Prime Minister Borne did win her contest, several other ministers were defeated and will have to resign (Richard Ferrand, the president of the AN and a Macroniste de la première heure, also lost). Will Borne be kept on, or will Macron seek a more political prime minister capable of the sinuous maneuvering that will undoubtedly be necessary in the years ahead?
France enters uncharted territory. Any new government will be different from the governments of cohabitation that the country has known in the past. The only party with any coherence or consistency is the one with which Macron cannot enter into coalition: the Rassemblement National. The minister of justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti, has nevertheless already floated the possibility of a “case-by-case” agreement with the RN on matters of mutual interest, such as hiring more policemen and magistrates.
As for Le Pen, it’s already clear that she has greatly extended her geographical implantation, with deputies elected outside of her traditional strongholds in the northeast and southeast. While media attention was focused on the rise of the reunited left, Le Pen quietly improved her standing with voters on the right, clearly benefiting from a rejection of both Macron and Mélenchon.
It’s hard to imagine anything emerging from today’s election other than turbulence and incoherence.