It is about the future of France and the challenges are historic. At least that’s the message President Emmanuel Macron proclaimed before the final round of the general election and asked voters to vote for a solid majority in his center camp.
After the first round, it did not seem certain that the ballot would end, as usual, with an absolute majority for the presidential camp. The freshly re-elected Macron warns of chaos and blockades if there is only enough for a relative majority in parliament and the new left-wing alliance with opponent Jean-Luc Mélenchon gains power.
There are performances in which the eloquent statesman Macron is in his element, with which he presents himself to the French shortly before the election. An analysis of the European defense situation at the opening of a trade fair for security technology, then an appeal to the population on the runway before departure for Ukraine. During the long-awaited visit to Kyiv, together with Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the course was set for Ukraine’s future in the EU and back home a visit to a high-tech trade fair. Here Macron reaffirms his ambitions for «French Tech», the start-up economy that is supposed to promote the reindustrialization of France and the creation of new jobs.
Mélenchon makes big promises
While the President embarks on global visions and plans for the future, left-wing populist Mélenchon starts with the here and now of the many crisis-ridden people in France. The price of gas, rising food costs, the minimum wage, the retirement age, student budgets – he makes clear and simple promises on everything, roughly translated according to the motto, vote for me, then you and your wallet will be better off. Chaos, counters Mélenchon, is caused by the president himself. The 70-year-old presents himself as a people’s tribune and as a counterpart to the president, whom critics consider an arrogant elite politician with a lack of interest in the real needs of the population.
Even in the presidential elections, in which Mélenchon was eliminated in third place, he had many opponents and those disappointed by Macron behind him. He then surprisingly united the fragmented left in record time to form a new left-wing alliance and shouted: “Choose me for prime minister.” A coup and propaganda coup that catapulted the left-wing alliance to practically the same percentage as the Macron camp in the first ballot.
Is it enough for an absolute majority?
Despite this attack from the left, there is little doubt that the Liberal, who was re-elected for a second term at the end of April, can at least continue to govern with a relative majority. But then Macron and his government would be forced to seek support from other camps. Such policies involving compromises and coalitions are less common in French politics than in Germany. The last time there was a government with a relative majority was François Mitterrand (1988-1991).
Three times in the past few decades it has even happened that a prime minister from an opposing camp sat across from the president due to a lack of a majority in parliament. This is the situation that Mélenchon is aiming for, which in France is called cohabitation. So far, however, the surveys have not indicated that this will happen.
And what moves the French in the run-up to the election? The overriding issue is purchasing power, which is dwindling with the Ukraine war and inflation. The state of the schools and the health system is also top of the list. In the sparsely conducted election campaign, there were promises of more social benefits on the one hand and a revival of the economy and labor market on the other. The sticking point is the pension, Macron wants to raise the entry age to 65 years, Mélenchon wants to lower it to 60 years. But this dispute is not only being fought in Parliament, but also on the street.
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