President Macron managed to repeat an important achievement in French history, winning reelection, as the conservative Chirac did in 2002. This time, however, things are quite different: France resembles the United States insofar as the nation is polarized. Dangerously so, in fact, because Macron’s nemesis, the rightist Marine Le Pen, in spite of losing the second electoral run with 41.5% against Macon’s 58.5%, will once again defy him in the parliamentary election that will be held from June 12-19. This election will be crucial for the ability of the newly re-elected president to rule the country according to his commitment to make France “more independent” with a “social and ecological program based on labor”, as he promised upon his victory. The polls, however, do not look good for President Macon, as an apparent
majority of French people do not want him to get a parliamentary majority, following on the footsteps of 2017. The door would then be open to a cohabitation where Macron’s young opposition would
be pressing hard for social and environmental legislation. Macron may have won and once again neutralized the danger of the nationalist right, but his identification as an ”arrogant” leader who
favors the rich will not go away. It explains why abstention was high (28 percent) while 35 percent of the electoral body did not vote, or voted blank ballots.
Clearly, the result points to a divided France where the third election next June will reflect a persistent state of crisis that a leftist common front – headed by Jean Luc Melenchon, who garnered almost 22 percent of the vote in the second round – will undoubtedly heighten. President Macon will fight back with his program of “renaissance” of nuclear energy (France already has more power generating nuclear
plants that any European country) and a carbon neutralizing strategy. He can also claim a European leadership role, especially now that his major interlocutor, Angela Merkel, is gone from the scene.
Macron has scored good points internationally, particularly in the management of the Covid scourge and by his attempt to mediate between Moscow and Kyiv. The European Union saluted his re-election with relief and Vladimir Putin sent him wishes for the new term. Yet, it is clear that the French voters were not so impressed by Macron’s world standing. Just after the election, he was bombarded with tomatoes at the market of Cergy. And now, for the third round of elections, Macron promises to be “the president of all French women and men” and to renew his “method of governing France”. Macron’s victory in the presidential election has one main explanation. Had Le Pen prevailed, it would have been a bonanza for the Russian Czar Putin. Most importantly, in the immediate aftermath, it would have compromised the staying power of the Western front in the war in Ukraine. As for France, the country’s alignment depended on the relative strength of two variants of nationalism, Macron’s national sovereignty brand and Le Pen’s rightist ideology. As the heir of the Gaullist philosophy, the centrist Macron supported then and will continue to support now the idea of a strong Europe, allied with America but not submitting to its political primacy in the world. Within this context, he plans for a power role for Europe, including a European army, in which France maintains some kind of hegemony.
The United States can coexist with Macron’s design. It has no other choice. And yet, the rapid strengthening of American forces in Europe dictated by the Ukrainian conflict and especially their
deployment on the Eastern borders speak to the renewed contribution of America to the security architecture of Europe. The Trumpist folly of cancelling NATO has been removed. On the other hand, the French elections tell us that the motives of preoccupation for the future of European democracies are far from being overcome. From the essential core of European nations (France, England, Germany
and Italy) to the United States, the strong undertow of opposition to the reigning establishments is feeding illiberal currents. What happens in France in June is of concern to all of us.