“I would like to have a word for all those who voted today for Madame Le Pen (…) I will do everything during the next five years so that they no longer have any reason to vote for the extremes.” Barely elected, on May 7, 2017, Emmanuel Macron addressed the voters of the National Rally (RN) and gave himself the mission of diverting them from the far right. More recently, the speech of the Head of State and his supporters has become a denunciation of “extreme”, including the RN but also La France insoumise (LFI), the radical pole of the left. Five years after the Louvre speech, Emmanuel Macron can only see his failure. Sunday, June 19, the RN won 89 seats of deputies, unheard of in the history of the National Assembly. On the other side of the hemicycle, La France insoumise obtained 72, among the 133 of Nupes (according to our calculations*). These two forces are now the main oppositions. Almost deprived of elected opposition members who would still be ready to discuss to compose “a majority of action”, the re-elected president finds himself confronted with the risk of “immobility”, according to researcher Olivier Rozenberg. When he was elected in May 2017 against Marine Le Pen, Emmanuel Macron did not simply promise to fight the RN: he also wanted to sweep away Les Républicains (LR) and the Socialist Party (PS), described as “forces of the old world” in an interview at Le Point (paid link). “The Macron company did not succeed by chance: it was able to take advantage of the weaknesses of the presidency of François Hollande”, observes Jessica Sainty, teacher-researcher in political science at the University of Avignon. Seizing the space opened by the renouncement of the outgoing president to represent himself, Emmanuel Macron accelerates the fall of the PS. His victory won, he poached Republican figures: Edouard Philippe, Bruno Le Maire, Gérald Darmanin… “By presenting himself as the new face of the center and going to rake on both sides, the President of the Republic has structurally contributed to weaken the old government parties”, analyzes the political scientist. For five years, the PS and LR “emptied themselves of their substance, allowing the RN and LFI to grow and exist more fully”, notes Julien Fretel, researcher at the European Center for Sociology and Political Science of the CNRS. Some were already worried about it in 2017, like Eric Woerth, then LR deputy for Oise and quoted by La Provence: “He is trying to kill the left and the right by creating (…) a single party around a only man, headless who exceeds and fought only by the FN and the Left Front. Do we want to leave the expression of the alternation only to the extremes? Eric Woerth, MP for Oise in La Provence on May 21, 2017 Five years later, Nicolas Sarkozy’s former minister himself became one of the last majority takers on the right by supporting Emmanuel Macron in the presidential election. Is the Head of State solely responsible for this situation? For Luc Rouban, researcher at the CNRS and Cevipof de Sciences Po Paris, the PS was already collapsing after François Hollande’s five-year term, and Les Républicains were already threatened by the growing popularity of Marine Le Pen’s ideas. According to the author of The Paradox of Macronism, Emmanuel Macron “took advantage” of the situation to seize power, more than he provoked it. In five years, the decline of the two parties has continued and allowed the emergence of more radical alternatives: “These are the same factors that explain the success of Emmanuel Macron in 2017 and what we observe today .” However, the electoral successes of the RN and LFI are based on a significant rejection vote by the President of the Republic. “What could have played is that he positioned himself as the representative of those who succeed”, advances Luc Rouban, for whom the sentence of the Head of State in 2017 on “those who are nothing” “summarized his vision of the world” (last December, on TF1, the person concerned said he regretted a “terribly hurtful” formula). Through his policy and his speech, Emmanuel Macron mobilized part of the electorate against him, believes the political scientist. By his person, he embodies “this policy of technicians, of cabinets”, seen as far from the field, adds Christèle Lagier, researcher in political sociology at the University of Avignon. “In popular circles, the level of anger is such that voters are interested in the speeches that will relay it,” adds Julien Fretel. However, Emmanuel Macron “is not a spokesperson for this anger”. The National Rally and La France insoumise knew how to take advantage of it. The Head of State himself has designated the extreme right as his main opponent. “He has been playing this card of the candidate for Europe and openness to conservatism since 2017”, observes Christèle Lagier. In the 2019 European elections, the Macronists summed up this positioning by presenting themselves as the “progressives” engaged in a duel with the “nationalists”. “He thus legitimized the far right” in its role as the main opposition force, according to this specialist in the RN electorate. The researcher believes that the results of the legislative elections are the consequence of “this very dangerous game”, but qualifies the direct responsibility of the Head of State. “All formations are responsible. The political class has aligned itself with the themes of the far right for fifteen years. The right, in particular, has lost itself in the short scale it makes to the proposals of the RN.” Christèle Lagier, lecturer in political science at the University of Avignon at franceinfo For Luc Rouban, “long-term surveys show a rightwardization of opinion”, particularly on issues related to immigration and the Islam, which plays into the hands of Marine Le Pen and her party. In addition, “external elements”, as Jessica Sainty calls them, have had “ricochet effects on the French partisan system”: the academic cites the movement of “yellow vests”, the Covid-19 pandemic, then the war in Ukraine and inflation. This was Emmanuel Macron’s line of defense in April, on France Inter, where he spoke of the “great disruption in our societies”. “We have seen it with the pandemic, disruption of life, ecological disruption, geopolitical disruption, disruption of consciousness linked to social networks, doubt about information. All this creates fears, and those who play with fears rise” , estimated the president in campaign. Attributing the breakthrough of more radical political forces to events over which he had no control, although he regrets not having “succeeded in stemming it”. Critics against the Head of State’s speech continued during the legislative campaign. After the first round, left-wing leaders accused the majority of ambiguity in their voting instructions, in the event of a duel between Nupes and RN. For Jessica Sainty, the speech of the presidential party is not for nothing in the surprise score of the far right. “By refusing to call clearly and everywhere to the Republican front against the RN in the event of a duel with the Nupes, the presidential party has contributed to fueling the ideological jamming.” Teacher-researcher in political science at the University of Avignon at franceinfo According to our calculations, the defeated candidates of Together! are more likely to have called for a Nupes vote than the reverse. But they are also more numerous than the candidates on the left to have chosen the “ni-ni”. The breakthrough of the RN also occurs over a campaign where the head of state has said little. The late appointment of the government, the choice of Elisabeth Borne rather than a more “political” profile, the visit abroad between the two rounds… Some choices have been criticized even within the majority . “There was a momentum, a dynamic for Nupes and, on the other side, there was none”, recognized a close friend of the president on the evening of the second round. For Jessica Sainty, the executive “thought that these elections would only be a formality” and “did not anticipate that it was necessary to fight during this campaign”. Emmanuel Macron had a logical reason for wanting to “extinguish the campaign”, believes Julien Fretel: traditionally, after a presidential election, “voters who did not vote for the winner demobilize”. By speaking little, the Head of State gave them even fewer reasons to go to the polls. But this strategy has resulted in a certain “programmatic deficit”, continues the co-director of the collective work The Macron Company put to the test of power. The candidates in the campaign “had all the trouble in the world to explain what macronism was in their territories”. This timorous campaign undoubtedly paved the way for certain victories for the RN or LFI. For Luc Rouban, “if macronism wants to survive, its only solution is to ally with LR and reform the right-wing pole”. Recreating in fact the old left-right divide. In any case, this is the position of those preparing for the 2027 presidential election, observes Julien Fretel: “Edouard Philippe wants to embody a republican right and the left does not want to be in the center.” * Franceinfo carried out various checks and decided to integrate into the ranks of Nupes two candidates labeled various left by the Ministry of the Interior. Contrary to the figures of the ministry, the projections in seats of the Nupes therefore count, in this hemicycle, the deputies Joël Aviragnet and Hervé Saulignac. All our explanations can be found in this article.
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