The leftist-green Nouveau Front Populaire alliance has claimed a surprise victory in the second round of the snap parliamentary election in France. According to preliminary results, it won just under a third of the seats, with the Macron camp Ensemble coming second and the right-wing populist RN, which won the first round of the election, placed third. Relief is mixed with concern about what comes next in Europe's press.

Macron's gamble paid off

Público is impressed:

“The political gambit unleashed by Emmanuel Macron on the evening of the European elections after his defeat to Marine Le Pen's party - calling early parliamentary elections - seemed in recent days and according to the latest polls to be a leap into the abyss. In the end this decision has shaken up the French political system and relegated Le Pen's RN to third place. Le Pen is weaker today than right after the European elections, while Macron is stronger and his party is ahead of the RN. The big victory goes to the unexpected New Popular Front.”


Democracy defended

Libération praises the voters:

“The French have once again shown exceptional political maturity by turning out in large numbers to defend the republican values inherited from the Enlightenment which underpin our democracy. ... Values that the supposedly socially acceptable RN continues to threaten in reality. By saying no to a far-right government, the French have rejected the idea of a xenophobic, depraved, inward-looking France in which the rule of law would undoubtedly have been gradually eroded. ... The united left was the first to clearly call on voters to stop the far right in its tracks. In a way it has been rewarded for this. ... Of course its majority is only relative, but it is now obliged to do justice to the maturity of the electorate.”

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An expensive extra round

Essayist Maxime Tandonnet criticises in Le Figaro the high cost of the election for the country's population:


“There is only one loser: the people of France, who acted in good faith and hoped this election would bring change but now find themselves facing a worse form of status quo, an ungovernable National Assembly and French politics descending into absolute chaos. How much will this absurd two-week psychodrama end up costing the country in terms of hysterical disunity, social tensions, radicalisation on both the right and the left, violence, fear and anxiety, dashed hopes, losses for the French economy and wasted time? France is careening into the unknown.”

Stage set for a centrist government

The NFP has done well but this won't last, says Corriere della Sera:

“Not only Raphaël Glucksmann's pro-Europeans, but also François Hollande's Socialists have little in common with Mélenchon's populism and his zig-zag course on foreign policy. A majority is now being sought in parliament that reflects the somewhat unnatural coalition that has emerged at the ballot box: reform-oriented left, not anti-European right, Macronian centre. A majority that has three years to find a candidate capable not only of beating the far right, but also of representing all the souls of France and reuniting the country. Hollande, the former president, could play an important role.”


Into uncharted waters

Zeit Online also looks to the immediate future:

“President Emmanuel Macron will probably try to forge some kind of grand coalition. With sensible members of the left, his own members of parliament and moderate conservatives. In purely arithmetical terms such an alliance could perhaps even come close to an absolute majority. This is perhaps the best news of the evening: the moderate members of the National Assembly, both left and right, appear to outnumber the radicals. Nevertheless, such an alliance would be a novelty for a country that does not recognise coalitions and whose political culture has so far left little room for compromise.”

A threat to the economy

If the victorious alliance implements its plans it could trigger a veritable economic crisis, The Daily Telegraph warns:

“President Macron's decision to align himself with the Left may have more serious implications for the French economy. Its New Popular Front coalition is a hastily arranged marriage of bickering greens, socialists and communists who are promising to bring in controls on food prices, reinstate the right to retire at 60, significantly raise the minimum wage and increase business taxes. If these policies were ever enacted, they would cost the country billions of euros - and risk tipping the French economy into a bigger crisis than ever.”

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