DC Edit | France is in turmoil, caught between hard Left, Far Right

The French people served up a political conundrum in having voted in a hung Parliament, not giving any party the numbers needed to form a majority in the 577-member national assembly. President Emmanuel Macron’s gamble in ordering snap polls in a bid to stop the far right from rising to rule the nation may have worked, but only in a quirky way with the Left-wing coalition, the New Popular Front, receiving the largest number of seats (around 178) and pushing Le Pen’s National Rally (142 seats) into third place.

Reports of France having become ungovernable even as riots broke out Sunday as if to mark the surprising results of the second round of polls may be a tad exaggerated, but the political scene may have become an unsolvable riddle. The verdict of the people, who rallied behind calls to keep the far right out at any cost, leaves president Macron and his Renaissance party (150 seats) scrambling to form a government with the Left to keep the regime going even if the radical Jean-Luc Melenchon, founder of France Unbowed, were to become PM.

The pact between the Left and Centre that saw 200 candidates withdraw to facilitate strategic voting after Le Pen’s party had a good run in the first round, has managed to keep the far right out at this juncture. Macron’s maneuvering may have begun already to stave off Ms Marine Le Pen in the next presidential election (for which the 2-term President is ineligible) if the march of the far right, with its fierce anti-immigration thrust based on racism and supporter of higher taxes, is to be stopped in its tracks.

Interest will be centred around how the Left-led coalition, including the Centre, will govern France just as fears for the grand collective European Union crop up. The Left has promised to make granting asylum to migrants a just and compassionate process, which might not please all of France. Prime Minister Gabriel Attal may have become dispensable in the current scenario and to whom his post goes will be fraught with interest and intrigue. It is, however, true that the results are in no way a victory for Macron, who battled for years to keep the Left, once powerful under Francois Mitterrand, irrelevant, but he may have lost the salience of the Centrists to be the prime force in French politics. Adding intrigue is the fact that the Olympics open in Paris in just two weeks.

A known pragmatist who is more inclined to looking to the practicality of running a regime and keep France’s core Republican values than bowing to any ideological compulsions, Macron may have to compromise to keep France going in a more uncertain world in which the unity of Nato, threatened by the rise of nationalism within the EU, support for Ukraine and several foreign policy issues may have come under a cloud with this swing to the hard Left.

An innate French resistance to power passing into the hands of the far right may have materialised in time, but so confounding is the position of a hung Parliament that no one would begrudge the position Mr Macron is in though it must be said this was of his own making by his decision to go for snap polls.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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