Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Emmanuel Macron warned ‘failed gamble’ could backfire in his face

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The EU election results in France saw French President Emmanuel Macron calling for a snap parliamentary election he hopes will prove the far-right wrong. But the move could easily backfire.

Dr Alan Mendoza, executive director of the Henry Jackson Society, told “President Macron is taking a huge risk with his decision to call a snap election, but it is a calculated one.

“He has polled dismally compared to National Rally in European elections, but France has a two-round domestic process that will force voters to make a direct choice between the parties rather than spread out protest votes. He has to hope he will win that else it will go down as a failed gamble that will transform France.”

Simon Hix, a political scientist at the European University Institute, echoed: “Macron is crazy! Suicidal move calling a snap election. What is he expecting, that every other party except RN joins a ‘save the Republic’ coalition?”

Far-right parties made significant gains in the European Parliament, shaking traditional powers and prompting Macron to dissolve the lower house of France’s parliament.

Voters will return to the polls in the coming weeks to choose new lawmakers, with legislative elections scheduled for June 30 and July 7. This decision follows his party’s heavy defeat by the far-right National Rally party.

The announcement came after projections showed the far-right National Rally party well ahead in the European Union‘s parliamentary elections, delivering a severe blow to Macron’s pro-European centrists.

Marine Le Pen’s nationalist party was estimated to receive around 31 percent-32 percent of the votes, more than double the share of Macron’s Renaissance party, which was projected at around 15 percent.

Macron, not a candidate in the EU elections, still has three years remaining in his presidential term. He described the decision to call snap elections as “serious” but reflective of his “confidence in our democracy, in letting the sovereign people have their say.”

He added: “In the next few days, I’ll be saying what I think is the right direction for the nation. I’ve heard your message, your concerns, and I won’t leave them unanswered.”

In the 2022 legislative elections, Macron’s centrist party won the most seats but lost its majority, necessitating political manoeuvring to pass bills. With this new gamble, Macron risks increasing Le Pen’s chances of eventually taking power. If an opposition party wins a parliamentary majority, it could lead to a power-sharing situation known as “cohabitation,” requiring Macron to appoint a prime minister with differing views.

Le Pen welcomed Macron’s move, adding: “We’re ready for it. We’re ready to exercise power if the French people place their trust in us in these future legislative elections. We’re ready to turn the country around, ready to defend the interests of the French, ready to put an end to mass immigration, ready to make the purchasing power of the French a priority.”

The EU election results were a hard blow for Macron, who has advocated for Europe-wide efforts to support Ukraine and strengthen the EU’s defences and industry. The National Rally’s lead candidate, Jordan Bardella, campaigned for national border controls and reduced EU climate regulations. Although the party no longer seeks to leave the EU or the euro, it aims to weaken the EU from within.

“Tonight, our compatriots have expressed a desire for change,” Bardella said. “Emmanuel Macron is tonight a weakened president.”

An official from Macron’s office justified the decision to dissolve the National Assembly due to the “historic score of the far-right” and the current “parliamentarian disorder.” The official, speaking anonymously, said: “You’re never wrong when you give the people a say.”

The EU election projections also showed a resurgence of the Socialist Party, which campaigned on ambitious climate policies and protections for European businesses and workers, garnering about 14 percent of the votes.

Reacting to Macron’s announcement, far-left politician Francois Ruffin called for unity among left leaders, including the Greens, under a single “Popular Front” banner to “avoid the worse, to win.”

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