International Kenny Stancil Neoliberalism

Neoliberal Macron Loses Parliamentary Majority as Mélenchon-Led Left Surges in France

The president of far-right National Rally, meanwhile, celebrated a "historic breakthrough" as Le Pen's xenophobic party won a record 89 seats.
Left-wing MP Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the New Ecological and Social People’s Union, delivers a speech in Paris on June 19, 2022 after initial results came in during the second round of France’s parliamentary elections. (Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP via Getty Images)

By Kenny Stancil / Common Dreams

France’s new left-wing coalition picked up enough votes during Sunday’s legislative elections to help deny President Emmanuel Macron the absolute majority he needed to ram through his unpopular austerity agenda.

Macron’s neoliberal alliance Ensemble won the most seats in the National Assembly with 245 but fell well short of the 289 needed to control parliament.

Meanwhile, the New Ecological and Social People’s Union (NUPES)—the recently formed coalition led by leftist MP Jean-Luc Mélenchon—won 131 seats, more than doubling the combined number of representatives that its four parties had in 2017.

NUPES, which brings together Mélenchon’s France Unbowed, the center-left Socialist Party, French Communist Party, and Greens, campaigned on lowering the retirement age from 62 to 60, hiking the minimum wage, and freezing prices on essential products—in sharp contrast to Macron’s alliance, which is trying to raise the retirement age to 65 and has reduced the corporate tax rate, exacerbating economic inequality and insecurity.

“The rout of the presidential party is complete and no clear majority is in sight,” Mélenchon told a cheering crowd of supporters in Paris on Sunday night. “It is the failure of Macronism and the moral failure of those who lecture us.”

Clémentine Autain, one of Mélenchon’s top allies, said that the election results vindicate the left’s strategy and reflect “a gathering of the forces for a social and ecological transformation on the basis of a profound change of society.”

Although the strong showing by NUPES has made it the largest opposition force in parliament, a distinction that enables it to chair the assembly’s key finance committee, the far-right National Rally picked up 89 seats and has also claimed a right to the position as the largest single opposition party.

National Rally’s record showing, which its president Jordan Bardella called “a historic breakthrough,” represents an eleven-fold increase in representation for the xenophobic party of presidential runner-up Marine Le Pen. 

In addition to pushing a pro-corporate agenda, Macron’s pursuit of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim policies has legitimized Le Pen’s reactionary ideas, progressive critics say.

Some of Macron’s allies portrayed National Rally and NUPES as equally extremist. Mélenchon, by contrast, instructed his supporters to “not give a single vote” to the far-right after he finished just behind Le Pen in the first round of April’s presidential race, thereby helping Macron win the runoff.

The conservative Les Républicains, which picked up 61 seats, are “likely to become kingmakers,” Reuters reported, as Macron’s center-right majority seeks out potential allies to overcome France’s first hung parliament since 1988.

If Macron is unable to form a stable alliance with Les Républicains, which has a platform “more compatible with Ensemble than other parties” and could give the president an outright majority, he will be forced to “run a minority government that will have to negotiate bills with other parties on a case-by-case basis,” Reuters noted.

Les Républicains leader Christian Jacob said his party “will remain in the opposition but be ‘constructive,’ suggesting case-by-case deals rather than a coalition pact,” the news outlet added.

Macron’s government is not confining its search for possible legislative friends to the right.

According to Agence France Presse, “Senior Macron officials were on Sunday already trying to drive a wedge through the different factions of the NUPES alliance,” accusing France Unbowed of being too rigidly radical and adversarial in a bid to peel off more moderate Socialists and Greens.

“There are moderates on the benches, on the right, on the left,” said government spokesperson Olivia Gregoire. “There are moderate Socialists and there are people on the right who, perhaps, on legislation, will be on our side.”

If legislative gridlock persists, Macron could eventually call a snap election.

Kenny Stancil

Kenny Stancil is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

6 comments

  1. Is “Left” or “Right” a good description of a political party? It depends on its integrity and who has power over its leaders.

  2. Hallelujah!!! Bringing real progressives in a coalition against politics tied to rotten money.

  3. Don’t spin this to your liking … The party of LePen won an enormous amount of seats. From 8 to 89 ! … To paint this as a victory of the left is propaganda. Mélenchon did not in truth manage to secure a coalition of the left. Even if NUPES gave that idea and obtained 131 seats. The left is totally divided and refused to accept his leadership . His LFI party acquired only 71 seats. It is not that significant in the end and does not demonstrate any leadership on his behalf. He is a demagogue, and for the past 50 + years has been paid by French taxpayers to switch from Trotsky to Mao, to pro Maastricht to against it to now Woke, Racialism and cancel culture – A really ugly politician – The big winner in this election is unfortunately the abstention. While the vote is definitely a defeat for Macron and his tyrannical and arrogant style of governance, it is hardly a victory for the left, but rather a clear indication that Macron has succeeded in dividing France by his inept and tone deaf governance. But please do not paint this has a victory of the left. This a one sided article that paints an ideological picture that is far from reality. Sadly the choice in French politics is either cholera or the plague….but your article should give the real numbers and the facts not be an example of advocacy journalism.

  4. Oh, dear. This is the same kind of stupidity I see in Canada. Supposed ‘left’ groups would rather see neoliberals in power than make any compromise with moderate conservatives. And I have looked into LePen’s actual platform. It really is not to bad.

    In France, like in Canada, only an alliance of non ideological people, left, right and center, will defeat the neolib globalists. Otherwise, they will stay in power for a long time. https://yaxls.wordpress.com/

  5. nothing xenophobic about Le Pen–this is amerikan projection….many left wing radicals prefer la Pen in France…the French left has fragmented and become homogenized liberals with no ideology—a sure sign that social change cannot occur

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