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French Elections Could Have Been Worse

by John Jefferson
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If you are someone who hopes and believes that France will, under some form of right or right-center or centrist government, effectively stop mass Third-World migration and say no to the “Great Replacement,” last Sunday’s election results are not the worst possible news. Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party received far and away the most votes, though not what counts: the most elected deputies. The trick of proclaiming the that the Le Pen party is “far-right” and beyond the pale still works in France to a degree; in the second round of voting, candidates from the liberal technocratic Macronists allied with the moderate and far left, standing down and endorsing one another in many districts and keeping the National Rally to about 140 delegates. Polls which had a week ago forecast a substantial National Rally victory—200 delegates, perhaps 250—shifted in the final days. Le Pen’s young protégé, 28-year-old Jordan Bardella, will not be France’s next prime minister. 

For friends of the French right, broadly defined, this may not be the most terrible outcome. It was admittedly a little difficult to imagine Bardella, almost unknown in France two years ago, actually becoming prime minister of France right now. The National Rally ran a handful of candidates who were not ready for prime time, which Bardella acknowledged in his concession speech Sunday night. The issues that have propelled the National Rally to be the first party in France—the combined sense that French elites are out of touch with common people, and that immigration is bit by bit making France unrecognizable to itself—have not been resolved. They certainly won’t be by whatever strange coalition Emmanuel Macron’s still unnamed new prime minister will come up with, which will necessarily include communists, former Trotskyites, more moderate socialists, and militantly Third-World members of La France Insoumise, veteran left-winger Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s party. 

It is almost a given that such a coalition will not be able to govern coherently, and it is not clear what ideological faction will hold sway. Confidence that the “center”—embodied by Emanuel Macron, whose bourgeois technocratic adherents are known by the derisive term la macronie—will obviously prevail in any face-off with their new leftist partners seems unrealistic. The French are weary of Macron; Mélenchon, for all his catering to the extreme Third-Worldist left, still comes across as a traditional French politician, masculine in a way that appeals to both men and women—and that Macron does not. 

One obvious silver lining of the election results is that Macron’s bid to get France more involved in the Ukraine war (he floated the idea of sending French troops there earlier this year) is almost certainly dead for now. His new governing coalition partners include extreme hawks: The socialist leader Raphaël Glucksmann is as war mongering as Tom Cotton, but is in the company of leftists with residual pro-Russia sentiments and NATO skeptics like Mélenchon. The political forces that might support an escalation of the war against Moscow have been weakened. 

As for the future, France does not have a stable and coherent governing majority now, and won’t for a year, which is when the soonest new parliamentary elections can be held. The country will hold together—there is robust and competent civil service—but the prevailing winds that brought the National Rally to the top of the polls blow still. The overall electoral trend for the National Rally in terms of deputies and voter support is overwhelmingly favorable over that of the past 10 years. Whether this points to an eventual National Rally victory, or a still conceivable alliance between a center-right politician and Le Pen’s party—a Sarkozy with some populist force behind him—is unknown, but it could and should happen. Seeing the far left in partial power—a genuinely violent Antifa type actually won in one district, supported by la macronie—makes such a development more likely. 

It is, of course, possible that France could have a realigning election in the other direction, something that signals that the old France is genuinely dead, that a new multicultural post-France is being born. Something like that election of the “moderate” Islamist in Michel Houellebecq’s novel Soumission. But it didn’t happen last Sunday.

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