France’s Old Parties Suffer Another Blow in European Election

The sun sets on the Bourbon Palace, seat of the French National Assembly, in Paris, June 8, 2007
The sun sets on the Bourbon Palace, seat of the French National Assembly, in Paris, June 8, 2007 (jrrosenberg)

France’s once-dominant center-left and center-right parties still haven’t recovered from their defeat two years ago at the hands of Emmanuel Macron.

The Socialists got only 6 percent support in European elections on Sunday, the same share as the far left. Former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s Republicans got 8.5 percent, down from 21 percent five years ago.

Most of the media attention has gone to the winners: Macron’s liberal-centrist alliance, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally and the Greens, who got almost 60 percent support combined. But the collapse of the old parties — and with it an era in French politics — is just as big a story. Read more “France’s Old Parties Suffer Another Blow in European Election”

France’s Traditional Parties Still Haven’t Recovered from Macron

The facade of the French National Assembly building in Paris, June 21, 2011
The facade of the French National Assembly building in Paris, June 21, 2011 (cactusbeetroot)

Two years into Emmanuel Macron’s presidency, France’s old political parties still haven’t recovered.

The Socialists, the party of Jacques Delors and François Mitterrand, are polling at a measly 6 percent for the European elections in May. The Republicans, who trace their political roots to Charles de Gaulle, are at 12 percent. Macron’s En Marche! (“Forward!”) and Marine Le Pen’s National Rally split 40 percent of the vote. The remainder goes to splinter parties on the left and right. Read more “France’s Traditional Parties Still Haven’t Recovered from Macron”

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

After Presidential Defeat, French Parties Divided

Martin Schulz Benoît Hamon
German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz and the French Socialist Party’s Benoît Hamon deliver a news conference in Berlin, March 28 (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.

The situation is worst in the Socialist Party, which has lost the presidency and is almost certain to lose its majority in the National Assembly next month.

The party’s failed candidate, Benoît Hamon, has announced the start of a new left-wing “movement” despite winning just over 6 percent support in the first presidential voting round.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who placed fourth with 20 percent support, has called on Hamon to join him.

The two leftists failed to do a deal during the presidential contest. Two things have changed: Hamon may no longer feel he owes loyalty to a party that failed to unite behind him and Mélenchon has lost the backing of the French Communist Party. It is fielding candidates against his La France insoumise in the legislative elections in June, splitting the far-left vote. Read more “After Presidential Defeat, French Parties Divided”

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

French Socialists Nominate Far-Left Hamon for Presidency

Benoît Hamon
French Socialist Party lawmaker Benoît Hamon (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 policies include the legalization of marijuana and the introduction of a universal basic income. Read more “French Socialists Nominate Far-Left Hamon for Presidency”

Hamon, Valls Push Montebourg Out of French Presidential Contest

  • Former education minister Benoît Hamon and former prime minister Manuel Valls have won the first voting round in the French Socialist Party’s presidential primary.
  • Arnaud Montebourg, a former industry minister, finished third. He has endorsed his fellow leftist Hamon.
  • Polls suggest Valls, a social democrat, would be more competitive in a general election. Read more “Hamon, Valls Push Montebourg Out of French Presidential Contest”

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

French Socialists Could Make Same Mistake as Britain’s

Jeremy Corbyn
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn attends a conference of European socialist parties in Paris, France, July 8 (PES)

Surveys suggest the French Socialists could make the same mistake as the British Labour Party and lurch to the left next year, taking themselves out of contention for the presidential and parliamentary elections that due in April and May.

Arnaud Montebourg, a fierce anticapitalist and former economy minister, is neck and neck with Prime Minister Manuel Valls, the center-left candidate, in the polls.

Ifop and Harris Interactive both give Valls 51 percent support in a hypothetical runoff against 49 percent for Montebourg.

Two Ipsos surveys conducted earlier this year put Montebourg ahead.

There is little doubt these two men will prevail in the first voting round. Read more “French Socialists Could Make Same Mistake as Britain’s”