The president finally reacted to the results of Sunday’s election. His speech was short and largely devoid of content. Although the posture was confident, the prescriptions were vague: “Ma seule boussole sera que nous avancions dans le sens de l’intérêt général.” Right.

The president’s opening gambit was to remind the French that they had elected him president in April only to deny him a working majority in June. This was to make it clear that he was not about to give up the “legitimacy” of his office just because he could no longer have his way with the legislature. My election was as significant if not more significant than yours, he said to the parties. Furthermore, since the party leaders he had consulted had rejected, as did he, the solution of a “government of national unity,” the only answer, in his view, was to find a way to grant the government a working majority. True enough–but he gave no clue how that might be accomplished, given the incompatible positions of the various currently intransigent blocs in contention. So we are no wiser after his speech than before.

Behind the scenes, the maneuvering is under way. Suddenly positions of no particular value under the Jupiterian regime–the leadership of the various parliamentary groups, the president of the National Assembly, the various questors and finance committee posts–are prizes worth contending for, small islets of power in a vast anarchic sea. It’s every man and woman for him or herself.

Meanwhile, Marine Le Pen is outdoing herself in dédiabolisation, repeatedly intoning the words “responsibility” and “seriousness” and even enjoining her minions to dress soberly: “We’re not like les Insoumis with their flowered shirts and no ties.” And said Insoumis, less awed by their access to the corridors of power, continue to snarl, but perhaps a little less threateningly than before: for François Ruffin, “l’Assemblée nationale cessera d’être une chambre d’enregistrement des désirs du président,” yet he does concede that he never for a moment believed that Mélenchon would be elected prime minister.

The president’s speech clarified nothing. It was a speech he had to make because his silence had become deafening, and he is about to leave the country yet again on a diplomatic mission to Brussels which will keep him on the sidelines for several days. But he is no closer to setting a new course: the langue de bois out of which he carpentered his brief address was worthy of Chirac at his most fainéant. He gave no indication of taking any particular message from Sunday’s vote: the large NUPES contingent elicited no response other than an acknowledgment of the need for a “strong” advance on the environmental front, while the unprecedented presence of the far right on the benches of the AN elicited nothing at all. LR’s refusal to join Elisabeth Borne’s “action majority” went unmentioned, and no lines were drawn in the sand as to the participation of LFI or RN deputies when it comes to realizing the “different” manner of government promised as a resolution of the crisis. Vive la République, vive la France!

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1 Comment

  • Anonymous says:

    Dear Art:
    I continue to think that in this performative, “every man for himself” environment, Melenchon’s status as leader of La France Insoumise is not long for this world. Without a constituency, he’s just a party boss. Is that a great thing to be at this moment in France’s political life? With there being no one NUPES Party, everyone is falling back into their cubbyholes. And as they say about academia, the fights are so bitter, because the stakes are so small.
    I wonder whether media personality Aymeric Caron is not eyeing the leadership of La France Insoumise with great interest, judging from his performance of BFM-TV a few days ago. Natacha Polony would probably commit hari-kiri if that came to pass, though.
    The Mexican standoff between Macron and the opposing parties may lead to gridlock insofar as legislation is concerned, but the intra-party maneouvering is probably heating up nicely, alongside the stasis France is condemned to endure for the foreseeable future.

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