French Parties Must Figure Out How to Survive in the Era of Macron

Emmanuel Macron arrives at the Elysée Palace in Paris for his inauguration as president of France, May 14, 2017
Emmanuel Macron arrives at the Elysée Palace in Paris for his inauguration as president of France, May 14, 2017 (Elysée/Nathalie Bauer)

Emmanuel Macron has redrawn the political map of France.

There used to be two major parties, one of the center-left (Socialists) and one of the center-right (Republicans), with smaller parties on the far left and far right. Macron’s centrist project, La République En Marche!, has thrown them all in disarray.

  • France Unbowed is a new far-left party cobbled together by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a former communist. Although an improvement over the once hopelessly divided politics of the far left, it doesn’t get more than 20 percent support.
  • For the Socialists, there isn’t much room between France Unbowed on the left and Macron in the center. Their support is in the single digits.
  • The Republicans are similarly caught between Macron on the one hand and the National Front on the other, but at least they still have a substantial base of around 20 percent.
  • The National Front probably hit its ceiling in the 2017 presidential election, when Marine Le Pen got 34 percent support in the second voting round against Macron. Read more

French Republicans Lurch Right with Wauquiez

French Republican leader Laurent Wauquiez attends a memorial ceremony in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, November 9
French Republican leader Laurent Wauquiez attends a memorial ceremony in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, November 9 (Facebook)

Republicans in France are likely to take a harder line against President Emmanuel Macron under the leadership of Laurent Wauquiez.

An education minister in the last conservative government, Wauquiez prevailed in an internal leadership ballot on Sunday with almost 75 percent of the votes.

He has ruled out alliances with both Macron’s centrists and the far-right National Front.

But he argues the party must take the fight to the latter by returning to what he sees as the “true values of the right”: order, respect and security. Read more

French Right Struggles to Unite Against Macron

French Republican leader Laurent Wauquiez attends a memorial ceremony in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, November 9
French Republican leader Laurent Wauquiez attends a memorial ceremony in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, November 9 (Facebook)

France’s two right-wing parties are struggling to remain united in the era of Emmanuel Macron.

  • Lawmakers friendly to the president have split from the center-right Republicans to form a new party, Agir (Act).
  • Prominent Republicans, like Bruno Le Maire and Édouard Philippe, have joined Macron’s government.
  • More centrists are expected to defect if the hardliner Laurent Wauquiez prevails in a party leadership vote next month.
  • The far right is also divided: Marine Le Pen’s former right-hand man, Florian Philippot, has created a new party to appeal to blue-collar workers in the rust belt of northern France while the rest of the National Front is focused on its heartland in the socially conservative southeast. Read more

Other Conservatives Should Be Wary of Imitating Kurz and May

Sebastian Kurz is seen leaving an Austrian People's Party meeting in Vienna, May 14
Sebastian Kurz is seen leaving an Austrian People’s Party meeting in Vienna, May 14 (ÖVP/Jakob Glaser)

Center-right parties in Western Europe are responding to competition from the nativist right in radically different ways.

Whereas Dutch prime minister and liberal party leader Mark Rutte argued against the “pessimism” of the nationalist Freedom Party in the March election and won, conservative leaders in Austria and the United Kingdom have chosen to appease reactionary voters. Read more

After Presidential Defeat, French Parties Divided

The French Socialist Party's Benoît Hamon participates in a meeting, March 21
The French Socialist Party’s Benoît Hamon participates in a meeting, March 21 (Facebook)

Neither of France’s two major political parties was able to get their candidate into the second voting round of the presidential election last week. That failure, without precedent in the history of the Fifth Republic, has plunged them both into a deep crisis. Read more

The Programs of France’s Presidential Candidates Compared

Polls suggest five candidates stand a chance of qualifying for the crucial second voting round in France’s presidential election next month.

They range from the far left to the far right, but a look at their policies suggests that these categories may have outlived their usefulness. Read more

Fillon Refuses to Drop Out, Hurting the Right’s Chances in France

French Republican François Fillon attends a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Brussels, December 15, 2016
French Republican François Fillon attends a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Brussels, December 15, 2016 (EPP)

François Fillon has gone back on his word and said he will remain a candidate for the French presidency, despite an investigation being opened into accusations that he paid his wife hundreds of thousands of euros over the years for a fictitious job.

Fillon, the center-right Republican candidate, had earlier vowed to pull out of the contest if such an investigation was launched.

Now he maintains it is up to the French people. Read more