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French vote: Macron down but not out as Le Pen mounts challenge

Ramin Mazaheri

Press TV, Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron’s coalition has been reprimanded at the ballot box in the 2nd round legislative vote, failing to secure an absolute majority.

However, he and the longtime conservative party are expected to continue to unite on neoliberal policies. Together, they will control over half of the parliament, with initial projections giving them 53%.

In his first term Macron routinely forced policies through by executive decree even though he had a comfortable absolute majority, causing many to see the legislative vote as an empty formality. Thus, turnout reached just 46%, making abstention the real democratic majority winner.

The biggest winner was the far-right National Front, who more than doubled most poll predictions with around 90 seats, making them the third-largest power in Parliament and tripling their best score ever. When the results were announced their election headquarters immediately chanted “Macron, resign” and they will likely play an unpredictable role in mainstream politics.

The left-wing NUPES “popular front” alliance promised much and under-delivered. With only 25% of seats, they are the main opposition party but are small enough to be easily brushed aside by the right-wing.

The new kingmakers are the mainstream conservative party, but Macron’s record of legalizing Islamophobia, and far-right economic policies, often passed via authoritarian decree and his brutal repression of the Yellow Vests have caused many to say for years that Macron is actually a mainstream conservative but with a new party logo.

Despite a prolonged period of once-in-a-century social unrest, the French political landscape has barely been changed. If essentially the same people in power don’t change how they govern, many say the next five years could be dangerously explosive.

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