Macron Presses On With Parliamentary Majority

Last updated: 13 June 2023 Views: 2373
Macron Presses On With Parliamentary Majority

Less than two years ago, Emmanuel Macron was a relatively unknown and innocuous figure in French politics. He now stands as one of the most powerful presidents in generations since his hastily assembled party has just scored a major victory in the country’s parliamentary elections.

La République en Marche (La REM) and its centrist ally Democratic Movement (MoDem) secured 351 of the 577 available seats, well above the 289 needed for an absolute majority. They took advantage of a substantial collapse in votes for the Socialist Party, who lost more than 200 seats following the Presidency of François Hollande.

The final total for La REM was slightly lower than the most recent polls has anticipated, with a few unexpected victories for fringe parties, including filmmaker François Ruffin (Unbroken France) in the Somme. Over 38% of elected MPs are now female, an all-time record.

Front National leader Marine Le Pen was elected to Parliament for the first time after four unsuccessful attempts, although her party only secured eight seats. She is among several party leaders disputing the legitimacy of the vote, after a low turnout of just 41%.

La République en Marche (La REM) was assembled in only a few months, fielding candidates as diverse as mathematicians and former bullfighters. More than 50% of these candidates were ordinary members of the public, having never held political office before.

Macron’s election as President was greeted with broad relief across Europe, as he defeated the far-right and anti-EU candidate Marine Le Pen. But there were also immediate concerns that he would struggle to consolidate this power.

The vote was marked by division amongst the left-wing parties, and an uneasy redistribution of the right-leaning vote. Both sides of the spectrum were expected to perform far better when electing MPs, potentially undercutting Macron’s victory.

However, Macron’s actions since assuming the office have calmed these fears, and largely solidified his support. His confident meeting with US President Donald Trump (complete with Alpha male handshake to outwit Trump's unusual handshake scoring tactics), and his speech on climate change and the Paris agreement - famously deploying the phrase ‘Make our planet great again’ - have put some worries about his suitability for office to rest.

Macron will now look to press on with his reforms, both in France and further afield. Chief among his policies are labour reforms he feels are long overdue, including an increase in average hours, allowing more businesses to open on Sundays, and bolstering businesses’ powers to hire and fire.

His other focus is European reform. Early signs indicate a strengthening relationship with Germany at the core of the European project, with talk of the pair establishing a ‘golden decade’ of relations. Macron will hope to coax Angela Merkel into backing changes to the Eurozone designed to strengthen all of its members, including the creation of a new central bank and regulatory framework.

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