France: Everyone Lost to Everyone. And Also Won

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Albanian Post

The country is on the brink of a government crisis. Gabriel Attal has resigned. Coalition negotiations are beginning.

An astonishing breakthrough for the leftist «New People’s Front». It was expected that Marine Le Pen’s «National Rally» would win an absolute majority, President Macron would appoint Jordan Bardella as Prime Minister, and then France would develop along a completely different scenario. The National Rally missed an absolute victory by 18 seats.

Why didn’t Le Pen’s party crush everyone?

«I remember times when there were only seven of us in parliament», says Marine Le Pen. «And now look how many there are. It’s no big deal. There are ebbs and flows».

The «National Rally» still remains a bogeyman for many voters, mainly the older generation. Younger voters are pondering: what’s so scary, for instance, about the National Rally’s proposal to pay social benefits only to those who have worked in France for at least five years and paid taxes? Currently, many newcomers, upon receiving a residence permit, head straight to social services for benefits, bypassing the job market. Le Pen’s party announced that the French treasury would save at least 16 billion euros a year from such a policy.

The fear of letting the «National Rally» into the second round was so great that candidates started urgently withdrawing, urging their voters to support anyone but Le Pen’s party. Out of 210 withdrawals, 130 were from the left-wing «New People’s Front».

As a result, there were amusing situations, such as in the northern departments with many migrant voters. In the Nord department, the second round saw a National Rally representative and Macron’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, the author of the migration reform. Who should they vote for? In a proportional system, all those who abstained or voted «against all» benefit the first winner. This is French-style «tactical voting».

It’s clear that National Rally’s Jordan Bardella won’t become Prime Minister immediately, but in a couple of weeks — why not?

Without the «National Rally», nothing can be built. In French political and parliamentary culture, the concept of a coalition is somewhat unfamiliar. Nevertheless, traditions will have to be broken now. The Socialists, despite their reluctance, will have to reckon with both Marine Le Pen, Macronists, and Sarkozy’s Republicans.

The parliamentary elections were closely watched in Kiev. The National Rally’s position on Ukraine has recently shifted. A couple of years ago, they wanted to leave NATO’s military command, but now Bardella’s party declares that it will continue to assist Ukraine, albeit with adjustments to some of Macron’s ideas.

For example, there’s no question of crossing the notorious «red lines», such as supplying long-range missiles, defensive systems that could escalate the situation, or sending troops to the trenches. And, of course, it’s worth revisiting the supply of Mirage 2000–5 jets.

In this regard, the Huffington Post calculated that out of 14 EU resolutions on aid to Ukraine, Bardella, as an MEP, voted only once, preferring to abstain in other cases, citing the European Court of Auditors’ repeated reports on the corruption of the Ukrainian leadership.

We will follow these stories with interest in the coming weeks when the «National Rally» and «New People’s Front» form coalitions. What if Bardella becomes Prime Minister? Not yet, but it’s possible.

What are Emmanuel Macron’s options? If the president appoints a Prime Minister from the «New People’s Front», there will be a massive battle against Le Pen’s party in parliament.

The «New People’s Front» may propose a candidate for Prime Minister to the president, who is free to accept or reject it. Especially since no one has an absolute majority in the National Assembly. Gabriel Attal submitted his resignation to the president that same evening.

«We are France, we are the French. No one will ever move us from the path of our democracy and Constitution», Gabriel Attal reacted to his team’s defeat.

Theoretically, an anti-Le Pen front could emerge in parliament, promoting republican and anti-fascist slogans. «On paper» this is possible, but it’s not 1936, and all the fascists have been shot.

Macron could leave everything as it is and keep Gabriel Attal’s government in the Hôtel Matignon. But everything will explode in three months.

Macron also has the option to convene a so-called «technical government». No one knows what this is, including constitutional scholars, but it seems to be some assembly of technocrats to govern France.

And they will win the European Championship even without Kylian Mbappé.