Macron had already announced during the campaign that if elected he would govern by decree – meaning to govern without the approval of Parliament – a practice allowed under the French Constitution, but unpopular to public opinion. Given his absolute electoral majority and not having external opposition, Macron could face problems from within his own party. If the group seems united, it will be due to the fact that the 355 representatives do not know each other. Political sensitivity, however, could arise and cause the Jupiterian god to descent Mount Olympus to align his troops.
By Estelle Ndjandjo l June 22, 2017
Emmanuel Macron’s nascent political party ‘Republic On The Move’ won more than 350 of 577 National Assembly seats in the French parliamentary elections for an absolute majority during the second round.
At 8pm, French time, on Sunday June 18, Macron officially took power. Having decidedly defeated rightest Marine Le Pen of the National Front in early May, the 39-year old Macron became France’s youngest head of state since Napoleon.
To win an absolute majority, the Republic On The Move and their centrist allies needed only 289 seats to govern without hindrance. By winning these 355 seats, Emmanuel Macron is assured likely success in achieving his liberal reforms.
The Socialist Party of the former president François Hollande lost more than half of his elected representatives and falls far short from more than 200 to only 32 deputies. Marine Le Pen will serve in Parliament for the first time in her political career, with seven other National Front deputies. Le Pen served as a member of the European Parliament from July 2004 to June 2017. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the candidate of the extreme-left, was also elected with more than 15 deputies from his party, Unsubdued France.
The Right party remains the only real opposition to the Macron government with more than a hundred republican deputies. An allegiance that could change, because many people within the party claim to be “macron-compatible” and could fall in line with the presidential majority.
Half the Electorate Did Not Vote
An absolute majority for the president who is not synonymous with acceptance from the French voters. Once again, abstention attained record rates: one Frenchman out of two did not cast a ballot on Sunday. This may be due to one-and-a-half years of intensive presidential campaigning. On breaking news TV channels, the French journalists realize that one of the reasons for abstention is because of the summer temperatures luring the French to lounge in the sun, instead of voting. The prime minister, Edouard Philippe, remains aware of this lack of legitimacy: “Abstention is never good news for democracy. The Government interprets that as a burning obligation to succeed” « he tweeted.
The Control Freak President
Macron had already announced during the campaign that if elected he would govern by decree – meaning to govern without the approval of Parliament – a practice allowed under the French Constitution, but unpopular to public opinion. Macron learned to be wary of parliament, which he considers to be an obstacle to executive power. As a young minister, he had been witness to political battles. Long and grueling debates can slow government reforms for months or even years, most often only to destabilize the sitting president.
This will be out the of question for a President Macron, who intends to rule his government and his party with an iron hand. This summer, a series of key laws from his political agenda will be introduced in Parliament. His first priority will be to introduce legislation eliminating nepotism, which has become a common practice in France. And, also, the feared reform of the labour laws he started, which would allow employers and employees to negotiate a flexible arrangement involving work hours. The overhaul of French labour laws had caused months of violent strikes throughout France, having negatively impacted the economy of some regions.
Unskilled Parliamentary Representatives
Given his absolute electoral majority and not having external opposition, Macron could face problems from within his own party. Indeed, the elected representatives of the Republic On The Move come from many walks of life, unlike the previous crop of career politicians. This could pose a problem for the newcomers, especially during debates and parliamentary committee sessions where they would face more experienced legislators. A working seminar will be held to familiarize the new representatives in the ways of parliament. If the group seems united, it will be due to the fact that the 355 representatives do not know each other. Political sensitivity, however, could arise and cause the Jupiterian god to descent Mount Olympus to align his troops.
Estelle Ndjandjo is a French freelance journalist specializing in French and international politics. After extensive reporting experience all over the world, including the civil war in Ivory Coast, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and recent European events, she is currently on a personal assignment to the United States, where she is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis of the conservative-online-journalism center at the Washington-based Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research.