In France, the loser wins

Sunday 7th July was held in France the double round of constituency for the legislative elections. Due to the desistance pact between the New Popular Front (NFP) and Ensemble for the presidential majority (Ensemble), the …

In France, the loser wins

Sunday 7th July was held in France the double round of constituency for the legislative elections. Due to the desistance pact between the New Popular Front (NFP) and Ensemble for the presidential majority (Ensemble), the National Rally (RN) closes the game in third place. With just three constituencies to be assigned, these are the results: NFP 181 seats; Ensemble 166 seats; RN 143 seats. The absolute majority in the National Assembly is 289 out of 577. No one therefore has an absolute majority of seats alone.

The scenario had already been hypothesized by all the polls, but the real surprise was the victory of the Popular Front, the left-wing coalition led by Jean-Luc Melenchonwhich has taken away from the RN – according to what had been forecast on the eve – the relative majority in Parliament.

Yet, in the first round, the Rassemblement National had obtained a relative majority of votes. But the French electoral systemwhich is the double-round constituency, led the parties that came in second and third (NFP and Ensemble) to make a pact to abstain from the second round, causing the defeat of the RN and the victory (albeit only in terms of relative majority) of the NFP. However, this was not a political agreement between Ensemble and NFP but rather of a convention to excludethat is, all the losers against the only winner.

But now it will be up to the President Macron to appoint a new Prime Minister to form a new government. In France, there is no initial vote of confidence, so – in theory, and in the absence of an absolute majority – Macron can do pretty much what he wants. The question is: how do you govern and get laws passed without a political majority?

Let’s look at the positions. Mélenchon has already said that he wants a Prime Minister of the NFP but without any agreement with Macron, who for him remains a bitter enemy to be sent home. Ensemble responded that not even the President’s party wants to make agreements with Mélenchon. The salient political fact is that the coalition led by Mélenchon It is not only made up of the radical left of the communists and France insoumise, but also the Socialists, the Greens and others, in total around a hundred seats or a little more.

These, if they were to break away from the NFP and join Macron’s coalition, However, they are not sufficient to reach an absolute majority (quota 289). But there are also the Republicans, not those of Ciotti but the Gaullists, who have obtained about forty seats. And then yes, in a red-green-pink-yellow-blue minestroneMacron would be able to form an unusual absolute majority in the style of “Ursula majority” (everyone in except the radical right and left). The political problem is that in France the far right was the relative majority in the first round, the radical left in the second round. Is it therefore sustainable, from a political point of view, to create a government supported by a majority that excludes the parties that obtained – some in the first round, some in the second round – the relative majority of votes and/or seats? We certainly don’t think so. A numerical majority is certainly possible that you’re trying to get bybut the political majority is somewhere else entirely.

What will the French think, who in the first round gave a relative majority to Bardella and in the second round to Mélenchon, if Bardella and Mélenchon were to end up both in opposition? If this were to happen, it is very likely that in three years – in the 2027 presidential elections – the two extreme candidates will go to the ballot, that is, the “Girondins” and the “Jacobins” if we want to make a historical reference, leaving “the swamp”, that is, all the others, holding the baby.

So where is the political majority? Let’s do an experiment. What would have happened if France had voted with the same electoral system in force in United Kingdom and in the United States of America? The English and Americans have always voted with the electoral system of single-member constituencies with a single round, dry, so-called first-past-the-post system. The answer is given to us by the French newspaper “Le Monde”: the RN would have obtained the absolute majority of seats (297), the NFP 159 seats, Ensemble just 70 seats. In practice, a clear defeat for the President and a crushing victory for the far right.

It is therefore clear that it is the electoral system that makes the political system, rather than the victory of the left and Macron! But be careful not to play too much with the electoral mechanisms trying to cheat the people, sooner or later the people will present you with the bill. And the more you try to act like a show-off, the higher the bill. And in this, as history teaches us, the French are unforgiving.

Paolo Becchi and Giuseppe Palma, July 8, 2024 is also on Whatsapp. Just click here to subscribe to the channel and always be updated (free).

The article In France, the loser wins comes from Nicola Porro.