PRESIDENT Emmanuel Macron is set to lose his outright majority after a strong challenge from a coalition of left-wing parties in National Assembly elections. Socialist Jean-Luc Melenchon, leading the left-Green alliance, finished neck-and-neck with Macron’s Ensemble (Together) alliance, in terms of votes cast in Sunday’s first round.
The president now faces a major battle in the second round on June 19th to win 289 seats and keep his majority.
Within half an hour of the first projection of the result, a confident Jean-Luc Melenchon announced his alliance was in the lead: ‘The truth at the end of the first round is that the presidential party is beaten and defeated.’ He called on voters to turn out in force next Sunday ‘to reject definitively the disastrous policies of Macron’s majority’.
President Emmanuel Macron won a second term in April, but without a majority in the Assembly he will not be able to push through his anti-working class and anti- middle class ‘reforms’.
He plans to gradually raise the retirement age from 62 to 65. However, Socialist leader Melenchon has vowed to lower it to 60.
Although Macron’s Ensemble alliance won 25.75% of the vote – marginally ahead of the left’s 25.66% – Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the ‘NUPES’ (Nouvelle Union Populaire Ecologique et Sociale) a coalition of Leftist and Ecologist parties, has proven to be a very popular candidate.
He came a close third in the presidential election. He has built an alliance made up of his own left party France Unbowed, the Socialists, Communists and Greens – under the slogan ‘Melenchon prime minister’.
His aim has been to stop the president winning the majority he needs across France’s 577 constituencies.
On top of lowering the retirement age, Nupes vows to freeze prices on 100 essentials and create a million jobs.
Macron had spent the intervening weeks since he won a second term in building a new government under Elisabeth Borne, as French workers and their trade unions grapple with fast rising inflation and a cost of living crisis that threatens millions of households with a poverty existence.
Yesterday Borne, Macron’s Prime Minister, said the government had one week to convince voters and win a majority! Pointing to Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, she said: ‘We cannot risk instability’. France’s values were at risk, she said, claiming: ‘We alone have a project of coherence and responsibility.’ Borne is one of 15 ministers who have to win their seats in the second round to stay in government. Each constituency is an individual local race.
Amélie de Montchalin, the minister in charge of green transition, faces a battle to survive as an MP, as does Europe Minister Clement Beaune. Former Macron education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer was an early casualty, losing out in the Loiret area south of Paris.
One of Melenchon’s closest colleagues, Manuel Bompard, was only denied outright victory in the first round in Marseille because of a low turnout. Green leader Julien Bayou also came close to winning through in the first round.
Far-right Marine Le Pen, who was runner-up in the presidential elections, did very badly in the first round. Her National Rally won 18.68% of the vote with a projected 15-30 seats. Another far-right leader, Éric Zemmour, was knocked out of the election in the first round.
The reality is that the determination of the Western powers to fight Russia in the Ukraine by arming and supplying the right wing Ukrainian regime, has sharpened the class struggle throughout Europe, where the working class has had to pay the bill for the crisis with huge rises in the cost of living as the granary of the world has ceased to export wheat, and with massive increases in the price of oil.
In France, the only candidate looking forward to the second round of the elections is Melenchon, while Macron feels that he may lose his majority, plunging France into a huge crisis where the working class will suddenly be posed with taking the power.
Meanwhile in the UK, mass strikes against the huge increases in the cost of living will culminate in a march, called by the TUC, of hundreds of thousands of workers in London on June 18th, followed by a national rail strike.
The reality is that the workers of Europe are being driven by the vast increases in the cost of living into carrying out socialist revolutions. Now is the time to build sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International throughout Europe to lead the European socialist revolution to its victory.