Centrist voters can't just be pushed to the left

Commenting on the Contributors website, political analyst Valentin Naumescu doubts that forming a "republican front" against the RN will work this time:

“The second ballot is traditionally decided between the centre and the extremes, not between two extremes. However, the centre is currently in third and fourth place, perhaps because traditional centrist voters are not following their parties' recommendations to vote for hard left-wing parties. ... They can't simply be pushed arithmetically from one side to the other. ... Voting for republican candidates (centre-right) and socialists (centre-left) in the 2000s to prevent the extremism of the Front National was one thing. But voting today for the NFP (essentially the communist bloc) is an entirely different matter.”


The RN is a macroeconomic risk

Les Echos warns of the consequences of a right-wing victory:

“Would we see a confrontation between France and the EU institutions and ECB that leads to a generalised crisis in the eurozone? ... This major macroeconomic risk cannot be ruled out. Another potential scenario would be a 'Melonisation' of the RN: almost complete abandonment of its economic programme to focus on ideological positions. ... But while Meloni has sided with Ukraine, the RN is pro-Putin and has even been financed by Russia. ... And Italy receives substantial amounts of EU funding, which restricts potential friction with Brussels. ... If the RN were to govern France, the risk of Putin's shadow spreading over Europe and the EU being rendered incapable of action would be immense.”

WORLD BRIEFING: July 7, 2024
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WORLD BRIEFING: July 7, 2024

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Strife in republican camp boosts Le Pen

For Krytyka Polityczna, Macron's approach Macron's approach to date is now impeding the formation of a united front against the RN:

“From the outset, the electoral strategy of the Macronists has been to demonise the leftist alliance and convince voters that it is just as bad as Le Pen's party. ... The knock-on effect has been a partial demobilisation of voters on the left, a slight strengthening of the centre and a further erosion of the republican front - the traditional alliance of democratic parties against the radical right. As a result, the three-way contest between, broadly speaking, the RN candidates, NFP politicians and Macronists will be difficult to resolve.”


Mélenchon scaring off moderate conservatives

Jornal de Notícias sees more problems on the left when it comes building an anti-RN front:

“In this republican front there are many centrist and centre-right voters who may be more tempted to vote for the far right than for the leftist coalition. Mélenchon, the leader of La France Insoumise (LFI), currently dominates the left, which conservatives don't like. Faced with the choice between Mélenchon and Le Pen, they prefer not to withdraw their candidates. President Macron, who is in third place, has called for a 'broad and clearly democratic and republican union'. But it is also true that with his destructive opposition Mélenchon has alienated the more moderate voters.”

Build a front through dialogue and policies


It will take more than building a wall against the RN to make France governable again, the financial paper Les Echo stresses:

“To mobilise an electorate that is weary of hearing repeated calls for a Republican front, we also need to hear different perspectives, by opening up a dialogue between politicians ranging 'from the social-democrats, the ecologists and the communist left to the liberals and conservative right', as [ex-prime minister] Edouard Philippe recommended. But Emmanuel Macron will not provide this. ... If he wants to facilitate the alliance he is calling for, the president must begin to take a back seat to the governing parties which he has been trying to sideline since 2017.”

Democratic emergency

Resistance is forming against the lurch to the right, but the outcome is still uncertain, fears La Repubblica:

“The democratic emergency is spreading directly from Europe to France. The victory of the far-right party of Marine Le Pen in the first round of the parliamentary elections has forced the left and Macron's centrists to call for a 'republican front' of resistance. ... The aim is to prevent the anti-EU, pro-Putin sovereigntists from winning an absolute majority in the second round. It is hard to say whether the plan will work. Early indications suggest that as a bloc the centre-leftist alliance would win a total of fifty percent of the votes. But the mechanisms of the snap election make it hard to be certain.”


A political and moral dilemma

France is in a bind, Le Figaro laments:

“In a two-round election, the die is never cast on the evening of the first vote. A lot can still happen and the phase between the two rounds will be decisive. Nevertheless, it certainly looks like the foundations have been laid: polarisation, as evidenced by the dizzying escalation in the vendetta between the RN and the LFI [La France insoumise of the left-wing NFP alliance] or their confrontation in a three-way run-off, is carving out a radically new political landscape. It is plunging public officials, but also voters, into the torment of a political and moral dilemma. ... It is a tragedy in the truest sense of the word, in which fate offers only bad solutions.”

Join forces to beat the far right

El País calls for a broad coalition against the RN:

“The RN's victory confronts the parties of the so-called 'republican arc' with their responsibilities. Either they join forces or they risk opening the way for a far-right government. ... Fortunately, they seem to want to bridge all differences. President Emmanuel Macron has called for a 'broad, clearly democratic and republican union'. ... The Socialist Party has promised to bring together the anti-Le Pen votes. ... Mélenchon and other parties in the coalition have made similar statements. ... The high stakes here require centrists and moderate conservatives to set aside their differences and support whoever can beat the far right, no matter where they come from.”


Macron's greatest defeat

For the Spectator, it's all over for Macron:

“Not simply because he has lost his reckless dissolution bet, but with it a whole political career. He came to the presidency in 2017 alone and he will leave it alone. The party he hastily, and brilliantly, rustled together has exploded. The arrogance and disdain for his citizens from bottom to top has finally got its comeuppance. In claiming back in 2017 to rid France of the reasons for voting for the 'far right' he ended up bolstering them and those of a radical left to boot.”

Parallels with the British crisis

Le Monde sees parallels with the UK and the Brexit vote:

“Hostility towards immigration, which was perceived as being encouraged by EU membership, was one of the most powerful factors behind the British vote, as was the sense of neglect associated with the dismantling of the state and the increasingly precarious working conditions. ... It's as if the last eight years in the UK have foreshadowed, albeit in a much milder form, what awaits the French after 7 July: a fractured country on the verge of a nervous breakdown, with a tarnished international reputation, facing a toxic showdown with the EU, a dangerous instrumentalisation of immigration and broken promises that fuel anger.”


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