Relief and then what?

By Camille Frati Switch to French for original article

The Rassemblement National's third place in the French parliamentary elections offers a short-lived respite. With a fractured National Assembly and three irreconcilable blocs, the emergence of a government majority raises questions.

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At 8pm on Sunday evening, a large part of France stopped holding its breath. After a third election in a month, the most important for the country, France had the impression of finally being able to breathe freely. Jordan Bardella will not be Prime Minister, that's the main thing. The "front républicain" (Republican front) worked, more or less well depending on the constituency and the party, but it helped to stem the rise of the Rassemblement National and prevent it from coming out on top.

Congratulations and relief poured in from abroad. Pedro Sánchez in Spain and Lula in Brazil want to see in this abortive seizure of power a further stage in the renewal of the left after their own countries and the United Kingdom a few days ago. But it's not that simple. France saved face. Now a burning question arises: who will govern and how? It will no longer be President Macron, deprived of his Jupiterian reign – or rather returned to the astronomical sense of the term: he will be as far removed from the day-to-day running of the country as Jupiter is from the Earth.

The republican rule is that the President appoints as Prime Minister someone from the movement that won the elections. This is self-evident for the traditional parties and alliances, and in any case for the two blocs Ensemble (the former Macronist majority) and RN, but a real headache for the left-wing bloc that came first. Formed in a hurry two days after the announcement of the dissolution, the Nouveau front populaire (New Popular Front) brings together parties that had the foresight to postpone the question of the identity of the future Prime Minister until after the polls so as not to waste precious energy on such a short election campaign. As is often the case, consensus is more easily reached against than for a particular personality. The scarecrows represented by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the uncontrollable founder of France Insoumise, and François Hollande, the former Socialist president who disappointed so many, have been consigned to the wardrobe.

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