Macron Hot despite cooling down from legislative election loss

  • Emmanuel Macron won reelection in France
  • Historical legislative win for the extreme left and right in France. 
  • Despite legislative loss, Macron kept his Prime Minister and Ministers from his party. 
Anadolu Agency

Why is Macron’s heat level hot?

Answer: He just won reelection in France and maintained a parliamentary majority. 

On the 24th of April 2022, Emmanuel Macron won the  French presidential elections for a second consecutive time, with 58,54% of the votes. It is an achievement for both him and his party, la République en Marche, which was created six years ago. As the French president, he holds a lot of power and this will help him achieve a lot of his party’s goals. Although France has a semi-presidential system, the French president still holds more power than the Prime Minister.

Indeed, the French President is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and the main figure of the executive branch and diplomacy. Macron has already started to exercise this power by meeting with foreign leaders from all around the world in a quest to further his political agenda. For example, unlike the extreme-left party, la France Insoumise (“France Unbowed”), Macron’s party believes in the necessity of being part of NATO and participated in the most recent NATO meeting in Madrid at the end of June.  

Furthermore, his temperature level is still hot despite not managing to win the absolute majority in the legislative elections. While Macron’s center-right coalition, Ensemble, did not win the absolute majority, it did win the relative majority and this is key. In fact, if another coalition had won the absolute majority in the parliament, Macron would have had to appoint another Prime Minister from that party which would have resulted in a cohabitation.

However, since this is not the case, Macron was able to keep Élisabeth Borne as his Prime Minister. Being in a cohabitation would have made taking decisions and actions much harder for Macron; the French Prime Minister holds the power to ensure that legislation is implemented and they direct the actions of the Government.  

If the President and the Prime Minister do not see eye-to-eye this can cause political paralysis and conflicts. With a Prime Minister from his own party, it will be easier for Macron to make decisions effectively and to present a united front for the French citizens. Furthermore, Borne declared that she will not go through a vote of confidence. The new government was announced on the 5th of July and is composed of members of the Ensemble coalition. This means that there is no Minister in his government from the opposition forces to challenge the decisions taken. 

Another reason why Macron’s temperature is hot is that the socialist coalition NUPES which consists of left, extreme left and green parties, and is Macron’s biggest opposition force in the parliament, might not be as strong as it seems. From the get go they are already facing some difficulties. First of all, their leader, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who had managed to create this alliance was not also reelected to the National Assembly. Secondly, unlike the Rassemblement National (the extreme-ring party)  which is made up of one party, NUPES is made up of many different political parties and they do not agree on certain issues all the time. This has already caused a fracture less than a day after the legislative elections. 

What is changing Macron’s temperature? 

Answer: Macron hot but not blazing after legislative elections, where opposing parties gained seats.

Macron winning the presidential elections makes his level hot. Nevertheless, his temperature is not blazing. Indeed, his coalition won 245 seats (38.6% of the seats in parliament). In order to win the absolute majority, his party would have needed to win 289 seats. Moreover, this is an historical win for the National Front (the extreme right wing party) since it has won 89 seats. Their previous record was set in 1986, with 35 seats.

This election was also a win for the socialist coalition NUPES, as they won 135 seats. This also makes the Nupes coalition Ensemble’s biggest opposition force in parliament. While Ensemble did not win the absolute parliamentary majority, the coalition did win the relative majority. This explains why his temperature is still hot.

Macron’s temperature has chilled as his popularity started to decline throughout his mandate. He faced push backs in response to decisions such as the decision to raise the fuel taxes, which gave birth to the Yellow Vest movement in 2018. The movement also criticized some of Macron’s other political decisions, such as the elimination of a reintroduction of the solidarity tax on wealth.

Although his popularity did increase with the invasion of Ukraine, his approval rate increased by 5 points in the first month of the conflict. This spike of popularity can be explained by the rally round the flag effect. However, the results of the legislative elections demonstrate an overall discontent with his party; and his slim victory margin shows an overall discontent with him.  

In 2022, some voted for him in the second round not because of political conviction but rather because they did not want Marine Le Pen to become president.  This lack of convictions was translated in numerous protests all around France, where people had signs saying: “Neither Le Pen, Nor Macron.” In a way, the French rejection of the far-right saved Macron his presidency. This decline in popularity is what cost him the absolute majority in the parliament and is making the French President’s temperature colder. 

What is driving Macron? 

Answer: Being able to implement his vision for France.

Macron wants to expand France’s influence on the international stage and increase cooperation with other countries and international organizations. This is not something that he could have done without being president, and it would be more difficult to achieve with a cohabitation. He has been trying to take a more important leadership role within the European Union. Indeed, soon after his reelection, on the 9th of May, he proposed to create the “European Political Community.” This is a parallel entity which would allow the countries which would like to become part of the EU to be involved in political decision-making at an international level. 

The idea behind this framework relies on two ideas. The first reason is that the process to become a EU member is very lengthy. It will take years for both Ukraine and Moldova to become EU members, if it happens at all. Meanwhile, they will not be involved in any of the decisions being taken. The second reason that Macron gave was that  enlargement fatigue among country members. In the months to come, Macron will be trying to convince other EU leaders to create this entity. Macron managed to overcome the obstacle of the new parliament and their euro-skeptic tendencies by creating a government which agrees with his views on international affairs. 

Macron wants to pass on some policies on an international level, beyond the EU. One of Ensemble’s positions is that the party wants to continue to be an integral part of NATO and continue to collaborate with the European Union. This is something that the opposition leaders do not agree with. He participated in the NATO meeting in Madrid which took place in June 2022. Macron also expressed being pleased by Turkey’s decision to let both Finland and Sweden join the alliance. All of these are views of his party that he wants to reinforce and that he has been able to do so as the French president. 

What does this mean for you? 

Answer: These results have implications on the international and regional stage

A new parliament composed of such a high number of extreme right and extreme left seats could mean that Macron will have to take decisions that do not always align with his views. Although he did manage to keep his Prime Minister and has a government composed of Ministers from his party, he will have to compromise with the other forces within the parliament. In order to appease both the opposition and the citizens who voted for them Macron will have to listen to their propositions and ideas. 

Furthermore, this historical win of the extreme right party combined with the fact that their leader was the other candidate in the second round of the presidential elections shows the growing constituency of extreme parties in France. It also shows the growing discontent of people regarding the EU and its laws. If these parties continue to grow the consequences for the European Union could be devastating. 

Roxane de Bergevin

Research & Analysis Member