Bluffers, Dreamers, Fantasists

9 July 2024

What is one to make of all the posturing among the deputies newly elected to la Chambre introuvable? The Mélenchonistes look like amateur poker players going all in on a pair of deuces. “We won!” the boss declared, as he pushed his pile of a few dozen chips to the center of the table. “Now give us all your money.” Two days later, Manuel Bompard and Clémence Guetté are making the rounds of the morning interview shows as if they already had the whole pot in hand. “Jean-Luc Mélenchon has all the requisite qualities of a prime minister,” Bompard declared. In his dreams.

Meanwhile, Yaël Braun-Pivet, the outgoing president of the National Assembly, is attempting to personifiy sober realism. “There is no majority,” she says, so the best the AN can do is to pick out, say, five projects a year and work on building enough of a consensus to achieve majorities à géométrie variable around each of them. A nice idea, but it omits one inconvenient fact: the first of these projects has to be to form a government, and neither la Macronie nor the New Popular Front is yet prepared to do that.

And then there is the question of whether one can even speak of la Macronie or the NPF as if they constituted united camps. Clearly they do not. I’ve said enough about dissension within the NPF. La Macronie is no less divided. Sacha Houlié is trying to organize a dissident social-democratic faction. Bruno Le Maire and Gérald Darmanin are trying to build bridges to LR. Édouard Philippe has now taken so many swipes at Macron that he and his Horizons group can no longer be considered part of la Macronie, but as there is no hope of rebuilding what used to be the Juppé wing of LR, Philippe will have to set his own course.

Meanwhile, Macron himself is keeping his own counsel, waiting until the order of battle is clarified before making his move. But when he does, his options will be limited. He has always been as much of a bluffer as Mélenchon, but a little shrewder in placing his bets.

What can he really do, though? If he picks a politician from any of the rapidly proliferating camps, howls of protest will arise from the others. If he moves to his right, the numbers aren’t there. If he moves to his left, the numbers probably aren’t there either, even if he turns to a relatively new face like Socialist Boris Vallaud, about whom Paris is suddenly murmuring for reasons that aren’t clear to me, or Marine Tondelier, who gained favorable attention for her pungent remarks in the recent campaign. The Mélenchonistes may fold after a few more rounds of bluffing and blustering, but then again, they may not.

So my bet is that Macron will look outside the political class. Eventually. In the meantime, he’ll let the situation fester. The Olympics will serve as a distraction, while Attal manfully carries on and prevents the ship from sinking, while all the sailors race about with cutlasses and daggers, slashing at one another as they go. When the country is tired of the spectacle, he will choose someone nobody has ever heard of. The absence of a budget will create a sense of crisis and urgency. The EU will insist on a debt-reduction plan. The RN will call on the president to resign. The streets of Paris will be filled with demonstrators: trade unionists, Gilets Jaunes, Le Penists, Bardellists, skinheads, LFI. And eventually the exhausted deputies will agree to allow Mme Unetelle to form a government of national salvation, to which Macron will give his blessing with a lofty speech for the ages before retiring with Brigitte to the Fort de Bregançon, there to serve out his term as president in absentia.

My fantasy of how it will all play out. A fantasy to be sure, but no less fanciful than the visions currently on offer from Mélenchon, Darmanin, and Le Maire.



  • I’m sure this is the time in France for Macron to use the EU to cut the budget. And I have a bridge in Brooklyn that is looking spankin’ new.
    I think your fantasy would do something interesting: unite the legislature in a move of rejection.
    Macron certainly would rather have Bardella, who agrees with Macron’s econmics, than say Olivier Faure. But it is fantasy indeed to think that Macron will treat this election with the ersatz aristocratic mien that he treated the rebuiling of Notre Dame, and get some rich family head to become “CEO” of France.
    Fantasy indeed. And really, I think your fantasy is much more fanciful than the dreams of Melanchon, Darmanin and Le Maire, since it is built on Macron’s gravitas. Hollande was poll unpopular – Macron is viscerally disliked, rather like Giscard d’Estaing, who he resembles. We’ll see.

  • bernard says:

    “the first of these projects has to be to form a government”
    That is not entirely true. the Olympics and Paralympics take us to end August, even early September with conceivably a caretaker government. In the meantime, people will go on holiday, do this, do that before returning to protest (Mélenchon’s troops are on holiday as well despite his ultimatums such as was delivered today). No the first project is to elect a President for the National Assembly on July 18th as mandated by the constitution and that is going to be interesting indeed to watch.

  • FrédéricLN says:

    “So my bet is that Macron will look outside the political class.” Yes, or at least, I shared this idea, but everyone he seems to know outside the political class in the big business class, which will not really raise enthusiasm on the left. So my last bet is in the political class. Not to say anything bad of anyone (!!!!), the only person I would consider having enough prestige to force the left and the center together to consider her, is Christiane Taubira – and a tough enough person to negotiate with Mr Macron. I would certainly have ranked Jean Lassalle as high, had he won in his former constituency, but he did not. But if Mr Macron expects the NFP to suggest a name, it will necessarily be the “common denominator”, so, likely Olivier Faure or another “high profile” member of the main current of Parti socialiste. I just don’t see if there is still someone with this profile.

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