As a conversation thread starter, here are some links to help understand the recent election in France. I will avoid all but one of the obvious “This isn’t the end of Macron or France’s problems” articles, of which there seem to be at least a thousand.
Firstly, it is interesting that the polls moved to Macron between the first and second round, and his final vote slightly exceeded his best final poll, which might be partly accounted for by the fact that there is no last day polling by law. As with the 2017 election, I think some who don’t like Macron and who love to complain about the way things are, admit to themselves in the last week or even the last day that they will still vote to block the one they like even less. This 2021 post on french performative miserablism and polling on vaccination partly covers what might be a national political and polling tendancy.
The below by John Lichfield from before the vote is a good read, he argues that the old French Right-Left system has mutated into a muddled pattern of three broad tribes: the scattered Left and the Greens; a pro-European, consensual Centre; and a nationalist-populist, anti-migrant and anti-European Right. No winner will ever be really popular with more than a third of the country.
Late last year Manu Saadia wrote a series of Substack posts on the French election for the benefit of the non french, explaining the basics and background really well. He stopped well before the vote, but they are still a good read. https://lacampagne.substack.com/
In particular I draw your attention to the one on why the Presidential vote matters so much, “Camembert President.” He writes “France is a monarchy that undergoes a succession crisis every five years, by way of an election. It is by design. Under France’s current constitutional arrangement, the so-called Fifth Republic, the sole real seat of power is the office of the presidency. It is therefore unsurprising that all civic and political life would revolve around it.”
Another good read, “Eric Zemmour and the long shadow of France’s defeat in Algeria”
The amazing mechanics of an election that spans the entire globe
Finally, I recommend to you the recently launched Le Monde english language edition. Why read US and UK takes on European news when you can now get the news direct? Most of the best European newspapers are only in the local language, so this is a good development for us. Some articles are subscriber only (although you can usually still read good chunks of those), but many are free to read. Worth bookmarking the site for french news. https://www.lemonde.fr/en/
Two articles to start…
Jean-Luc Mélenchon devises plan to become Emmanuel Macron’s main opponent
The leader of the radical left hopes to win the legislative elections in June. Labor Day protests on May 1st will be the the left’s first show of strength against President Macron.
Quarrelling French far right struggles to unite for legislative elections
Marine Le Pen has already set her sights on the June 12 and 19 elections, hoping to induct a significant far-right group to the Assemblée Nationale. Eric Zemmour called for an alliance while criticizing her defeat, fueling their rivalry.