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

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

Certain to Lose Power, France’s Socialists Argue Among Themselves

French Socialist Party presidential candidate Benoît Hamon, March 2
French Socialist Party presidential candidate Benoît Hamon, March 2 (PS/Mathieu Delmestre)

Former prime minister Manuel Valls’ endorsement of Emmanuel Macron has widened a split in France’s ruling Socialist Party.

Benoît Hamon, the left’s presidential candidate, has taken Valls to task for going back on his word.

During the Socialist primary, Valls vowed to support his party’s nominee. Now that he has lost the contest, he wants leftwingers to support Macron instead in order to stop Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front. Read more

French Socialists Nominate Far-Left Hamon for Presidency

French Socialist Party presidential candidates Manuel Valls and Benoît Hamon
French Socialist Party presidential candidates Manuel Valls and Benoît Hamon (Sipa/Alchetron)
  • French Socialists nominated Benoît Hamon, a former education minister, as their presidential candidate on Sunday.
  • Hamon got 58 percent support in a second voting round against 41 percent for his opponent, the former prime minister Manuel Valls.
  • Hamon is to the left of the party. His signature policies are the legalization of marijuana and the introduction of a universal basic income. Read more

Hamon, Valls Push Montebourg Out of French Presidential Contest

French Socialist Party presidential candidates Manuel Valls, Benoît Hamon and Arnaud Montebourg
French Socialist Party presidential candidates Manuel Valls, Benoît Hamon and Arnaud Montebourg (Sipa/Alchetron/PS)
  • Former education minister Benoît Hamon and former prime minister Manuel Valls won the first voting round in the French Socialist Party’s presidential primary on Sunday.
  • Arnaud Montebourg, a former industry minister, finished third. He immediately endorsed his fellow leftist Hamon. Read more

Valls Jeopardizes His Credibility as a Reformer by Tilting to the Left

French prime minister Manuel Valls arrives for a meeting at the Elysée Palace in Paris
French prime minister Manuel Valls arrives for a meeting at the Elysée Palace in Paris (Sipa/Laurent Chamussy)

With two weeks to go until the French Socialists elect their presidential candidate, Manuel Valls is not so subtly tilting to the left.

The former prime minister, who made a name for himself as a reformer, now says neither the 35-hour workweek nor France’s high wealth taxes need to be reformed after all.

Valls’ concessions to the left make short-term political sense. Benoît Hamon and Arnaud Montebourg, two far-left firebrands, are up in the polls. Valls is still the favorite to win the nomination, but only narrowly. Recent surveys suggest he could struggle in a second voting round against either of his opponents.

But he takes a longer-term risk. Read more