Sunday

20th Aug 2017

France gives Macron big majority with little enthusiasm

  • The election victory "obliges" the government, said prime minister Edouard Philippe (second from left). (Photo: elysee.fr)

French president Emmanuel Macron won a three-fifth majority in the lower house in the second round of the legislative elections on Sunday (18 June), but less than half of voters cast a ballot.

Macron's political movement, La Republique en Marche (LRM, The Republic on the Move) won 308 seats in the National Assembly, out of 577, after obtaining 43.06 percent of the vote. Its centrist ally, the Modem party, got 40 seats (6 percent).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

While not as big as expected after the first round, LRM's majority left other parties behind and completed Macron's destruction of the old political landscape.

The conservative Republicans party will be the main opposition faction, with 113 seats (22.2 percent), down from 192 in the outgoing assembly.

The party leader, Francois Baroin, said he was happy that the Republicans will be "big enough" to "make its differences with LRM heard".

The Socialist Party (PS), which had been the main party with 270 MPs, was left with 29 seats (5.68 percent).

Several ministers who served under former socialist president Francois Hollande lost out to newcomers.

The PS leader, Jean-Christophe Cambadelis, who was himself eliminated in the first round, resigned from his position.

Some 431 new MPs will enter the assembly and a record 224 of the MPs will be women.

"A year ago, no one would have imagined such a renewal of political life," prime minister Edouard Philippe said on Sunday evening.

"You gave a clear majority to the president and the government," he told voters in a TV address. He said that the majority "will have one mission: to take action for France".

He added that the government will act with "great humility and total determination".

Philippe also noted that "too many people didn't want to express themselves”, but he said that abstention gave his government a "fierce will to succeed".

New depths

The turnout on Sunday was 42.64 percent, the lowest ever in a French legislative election. Just 38.43 of voters cast a valid ballot. In the first round, the turnout was already a record low, at 48.7 percent.

Disillusion towards old parties, a will to give Macron a stable majority, as well as a lack of interest due to a lacklustre campaign - just a month after a heated presidential election - could explain French voters' apathy.

Meanwhile, the contrast between Macron's triumph in terms of seats and the number of actual voters has triggered criticism over his legitimacy.

"Our people have entered a form of general civic strike, which demonstrates the state of exhaustion of institutions that pretend to organise society with a skimpy majority that has all the powers," radical left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon said on Sunday.

Melenchon, who got 19.58 percent of votes in the first round of the presidential election in April, was elected in Marseille and will be one of Macron's staunchest opponents.

His France Unbowed party won 17 seats and could form a group with the Communist Party, which won 10 seats.

Melenchon said that the result gave Macron and Philippe "no legitimacy to commit a social coup" and added that he would call abstainers to "fight" the government.

Another vocal opponent of Macron in the National Assembly will be Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader he beat in the presidential run-off in May.

Le Pen was elected MP for the first time, in Henin-Beaumont, in Northern France, a stronghold of her National Front (FN) party.

The FN will have eight MPs (8.75 percent), up from two in the previous assembly, but far from the 15 needed to form a political group. In the first round, the party lost 7.6 million votes compared to the presidential run-off, and qualified for the second round in 122 constituencies.

"In face of a bloc that represents the interests of the oligarchy, we are the only force of resistance," Le Pen said, adding that "abstention weakens the legitimacy of [Macron's] term".

Le Pen

Le Pen will leave the European Parliament, where she had been elected for the first time in 2004, and where a procedure was opened recently to strip her of her immunity over suspicions that FN party members were unduly paid by the EU parliament as assistants.

Three other French MEPs were elected in France on Sunday: Le Pen's partner Louis Aliot (FN), Jean-Luc Melenchon, and Constance Le Grip (Republicans).

In a letter to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, French PM Philippe said that the new majority "embodies a France that is resolutely modern and determined to fall within a strong European future".

German chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Macron for his "clear majority" and said that she wanted to continue the "the good cooperation" with France "for Germany, for France and for Europe".

Analysis

Macron faces challenges after foretold victory

French president is expected to win a three-fifths majority in parliament on Sunday, but he will have to manage an unruly group of MPs in a socially unstable country.

Macron looking for a parliament majority

The new French president's party is expected to come ahead in the first round of the legislative elections on Sunday and win a large majority in the run-off.

Agenda

EU summit and Brexit This WEEK

Security and defence, along with Brexit and migration, are among the big issues to be discussed as leaders from all 28 EU states converge in Brussels for meetings and a summit.

Focus

Political games behind Germany's gay marriage vote

Gay marriage was adopted in a snap vote at the German parliament on Friday. But lesbians and gays acquired this right after German chancellor Angela Merkel tried to sabotage the electoral campaigns of her opponents.

News in Brief

  1. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  2. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  3. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  4. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  5. Russian power most feared in Europe
  6. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  7. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  8. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  2. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  3. Martens CentreWeeding Out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  5. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Ep. 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  6. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  7. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  8. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  9. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School
  10. EPSUEP Support for Corporate Tax Transparency Principle Unlikely to Pass Reality Check
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament Improves the External Investment Plan but Significant Challenges Ahead
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCloser Energy Co-Operation Keeps Nordic Region on Top in Green Energy