Legislative elections and cohabitation – Revue de Presse: 15 mai 2022

15 May 2022

Despite the failure of the French left to advance a candidate to the second round of the presidential election for the second consecutive time, the political figure dominating the press for the past week has been Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The recent effort of multiple left-wing parties to join forces in anticipation of the legislative elections in June has sparked chatter about the possibility of Mélenchon as prime minister and an era of “cohabitation,” when the President’s party and the leading party of the National Assembly represent two different wings of the political spectrum.  While cohabitation has occurred three times since the dawn of the Fifth Republic, it has not happened since the presidential terms were changed from seven years to five, and aligned with the legislative elections. Changing the election calendar has made it almost a given that the party who wins the Presidential election will also see a strong showing in the legislative elections a few weeks later, giving the President the mandate he has needed to govern.


Mélenchon, riding unprecedented disillusionment and a somewhat surprising wave of support coming out of the first round of the presidential election, is attempting to disrupt that trend. By creating a coalition and positioning the legislative elections as a way for the left to limit Macron’s power during his second term. He announced this week that he would not be running for his legislative seat in Marseille, endorsing his presidential campaign manager Manuel Bompard for the post. Instead, Mélenchon is angling for the role of Prime Minister, should the push from the left for cohabitation prove successful.


This seems to have understandably placed the President on alert. Alexandre Lemarié wrote that if Emmanuel Macron’s attack strategy is indicative of deeper political concerns, Mélenchon appears to be the President’s newest greatest threat.


Meanwhile, Macron’s former rival, Marine Le Pen, has been relatively absent since the second Presidential round. Le Monde’s Gilles Paris notes this week that her primary role has been to play down expectations for her party in the upcoming legislative contests. Despite performing stronger than ever just a few weeks ago, Le Pen does not seem to share the idea that the legislative elections, under the current structure, can realistically serve any purpose but to confirm the Presidential election results. “Institutional logic favors a majority for the president of the Republic; all those who say otherwise are telling stories,” she said this week.

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