The Rebound Effect

21 June 2024

Is the center making a comeback? Harris is projecting the RN to win 220-250 seats, the New Popular Front 135-165, and Renaissance 125-130, half of its current 250 but still substantial. In terms of the popular vote, IFOP has RN at 34%, Renaissance at 22%, and NPF at 29%. Harris has 33, 21, and 26, respectively. These figures are not stable: Renaisssance has gained 4% in a week, which suggests that some voters are recoiling from the stark RN-NPF alternative as its implications sink in.

Thus, the likely outcome of the election is another “hung parliament,” which will leave both Macron and the parties with choices to make. Bardella has said he will not seek to become prime minister unless the RN has an absolute majority. If, as appears likely, it won’t, what then? On France Culture this morning, Jean Leymarie suggested a coalition with Eric Ciotti as prime minister. Farfelu? Not necessarily. Listen to Leymarie, who makes it sound almost plausible. But Ciotti would need to win a vote of confidence, and his “New LR” won’t have enough seats to make up what RN lacks for a majority. Will any of his comrades from the “Old LR” vote for him, if they’re lucky enough to be re-elected? Will there be enough of them? Where will more moderate deputies end up?

If Harris’s seat projections are correct, it’s hard to see how the left puts together a winning coalition. Without further gains, it would take all of the NPF’s 165 seats (at the most optimistic projection) and nearly all of Renaissance’s 125-130. The incompatibilities within the NPF are bad enough, but it is all but certain that a substantial number of Renaissance deputies would find it impossible to support an NPF prime minister, even if the nominee were, say, Laurent Berger or Raphaël Glucksmann himself. And such a government would be vulnerable at every turn to a veto by LFI.

Meanwhile, the center is hardly unified. Edouard Philippe, nominally a part of Renaissance, yesterday blasted Macron for “killing the majority.” And Gabriel Attal is putting ever more distance between himself and Macron, to the point where a new Attal government would be almost as much of une cohabitation as any other conceivable configuration. In short, the election probably won’t end France’s agony. It will only prolong it, perhaps precipitating an even deeper crisis, since there will be no apparent exit other than a Macron resignation. He cannot dissolve the parliament again before one year. Dissolution was intended as a last-ditch remedy for a political impasse, but this dissolution has created a worse impasse than the one it sought to resolve.



  • Sta says:

    Less unhappy outcome:
    – no absolute majority for the RN
    – E Ciotti fails to gather enought hard right MPs for the RN and him to have together an absolute majority
    – the center, the center-left within NFP and the traditional right enter into a two-year coalition agreement, Macron being told to remain discreet and to focus on his brillant ideas about Lebanon and sending international troops to Gaza,
    And our nightmare will be over.

    • Robinson says:

      Maybe they could make Hollande Prime Minister for the sake of poetic justice…

      But I fear that this outcome would only postpone the nightmare by two years.

  • Gregory S Brown says:

    Does the PM need to be an elected member of the Assembled? Could a non partisan “technocrat” be offered the chance to form a government?

    Off the wall scenario but why not?

    Then again is there anyone of such stature even in société civile?

    • Not off-the-wall at all. The President can appoint who he likes. For example, Macron’s second prime minister, Jean Castex, wasn’t a member of the National Assembly when he was appointed. In fact, he was mayor of a small town in the south of the country.

  • bernard says:

    The RN has spent the last 2 weeks watering down its fiscal and economic program to the point where hardly anything is left except the pledge to lower the VAT rate on fuels from 20% to 5.5%, which incidentally would put France on a collision course with the EU as the reduced rate of VAT is banned by European rules for energy products. A conflict with the EU is perhaps desired to stir up anti-European sentiment. They have instead been insisting that they would implement their program against immigrants and immigration as soon as possible.

    In any case, a very significant fact in my opinion is that the fiscal retreat we have been hearing day and night from Bardella seems to have had no impact at all on the standing of the RN in opinion polls where their lead seems solidified at this point according to results from opinion polls from several polling companies. People planning to vote for them know why and it’s not about economics, it’s about immigrants. The standing of the Nouveau Front Populaire also seems solidified and does not vary despite massive and constant attacks from most of the media and government supporters on their economic and fiscal program. People who vote NFT do not do so because of the economic program, but for liberty. It is only the polling of Ensemble candidates which may still be moving around a little bit.

    Lastly, the fantasy of a technical government led by “experts” as has been the case in several other countries in the past is just that: the last attempt by the cornered genius of the Opal coast to pull a hat trick to survive a bit longer a crisis of his making that has run out of control and will end up with the extreme right in full power.

  • bernard says:

    Having learned of a new sport in Le Monde, I cannot help but relay it here. You likely knew about Russian roulette where there is one bullet in your six-shooter. There is now Belgian roulette (apologies to Belgians, it’s really a joke on the French) where there are six bullets in your six-shooter. The genius of the Opal coast holds one of those in his hand, pointed to France.

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