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France Senate Election: Macron Suffers a Blow

President Macron’s party, «always winning» La République En Marche! (LREM), lost  Sunday’s senatorial elections in France after recent electoral successes.  According to Jacques Sapir,  Director of studies at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris, and head of the Centre d'Étude des Modes d'Industrialisation (CEMI-EHESS), former president François Hollande disappointed the left part of the electorate, Emmanuel Macron is disappointing people both on the left and on the right. 

The defeat of Emmanuel Macron’s party at French senatorial elections is hardly surprising. The French electoral system is very specific for the Senate, whose powers are by the way strictly limited. It emphasizes the weight of previous local elections. LREM is quite a new party without this deep stake of local politics. But what was really surprising was the amount of this defeat, Jacques Sapir said in an interview with  “Many local representatives, who could have been inclined to support Emmanuel Macron in the past, turned their back to him because of his last decision, and mostly his complete disregard to the needs of territories and medium-size cities. To some extent this is explaining the size of the defeat this party suffered on Sunday September 24th.” 

According to Sapir, there is a conflict between grassroots activists and LREM leadership. “Certainly, there is a lack of democracy in the day-to-day functioning of La Republique En Marche. This is creating a deep resentment for hundreds of activists. These people participated in the creation and development of LREM hoping for real changes in policy-making. Now, they feel cheated,” the expert said. The LREM leadership is mostly composed of old politicians, used to the tricks and even the dirty tricks of French politics. This conflict is certainly a factor in the loss of popularity of the President and the failure to strengthen his movement. It did not have a real impact on Sunday elections, but could become more and more apparent in months to come. 

Speaking about whether Macron is becoming as unpopular as his former political mentor Francois Hollande, Jacques Sapir stressed, that confidence rating of Emmanuel Macon is now plummeting at a faster rate than for any other President of France. But comparison with François Hollande is misguided. “François Hollande disappointed the left part of the electorate. Emmanuel Macron is disappointing people both on the left and on the right”, the expert said.

As to other parties’ performance at the senatorial elections,  Jacques Sapir said, that Les Républicains (which gained some 150 seats in the Senate) are still in the midst of a deep crisis after two major defeats. “There is a strong possibility that we could see a split between the right wing and the more centrist wing. The egos of some leaders is also a factor to be reckoned with. This party has still been unable to define clearly a political position and is heavily paying for that”, the expert said. 

The Socialist party suffered some losses, but this has no connection with present leftist protests. The Socialist party is now completely estranged with the left in France, be it radical or not. “The Socialist party has to be rebuilt or to die fast. And prospects for its rebuilding don’t look good. This lets Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s movement to be the only representative of the Left in France”, the expert concluded.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.