France’s presidential election and the fall of the two party system

Jean-Luc Mélenchon on election day
Contributed by Joe Montero

The first stage of France’s presidential; election has come and gone. Emmanuel Macron came on top with 24 percent of the vote, compared to Marine le Pen’s 22 percent. Now they must go to the second round on 7 May and Macron is expected to come out on top.

Macron was able to garner sufficient support from the dissatisfied  Socialist Party base and the conservative Republicans and the message of responsible middle of the road and clean politics. He also benefited from a widespread fear of the rise of Marine Le Pen and the National Front.

There is also another important part to the story of this election. This is the rise of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the movement that he leads. It represents that part of French society that wants real change and not a continuation down the same old road. He got 19.6 percent of the vote. This is impressive when you consider the relative lack of resources, and most importantly, the big media blitzkrieg against him as the big threat to France.

Macron, in contrast, enjoyed the support an important section of the old political establishment and a very friendly big media. He also received favour from the highest levels of  the European Union.

Not much is said about the fate of the Socialist Party.  It’s candidate getting merely 6 percent of the vote. This is a disaster.  And a significant base has gone over to the Mélenchon and  Unbowed France>  They have succeed in laying down a good base to consolidate and take to the next stage. It is in a position, to be a Major player in French politics from now on and this will continue to raise the concept of an alternative direction, on a scale that has not been seen for a long time.

Behind this, is the near collapse of the traditional two party system, against which, which the French have turned against in big numbers. The Socialists and Republicans managed to get barely 27 percent between them.  The reason is that the two party system  has not delivered society needs and expects. The Socialist Party suffered most, because it claimed to be the party of reform and failed to live up to it. In July there is going to be a general election for members of the General Assembly. What happens there is going to be significant.

Le Pen and the National Front are also a creation of the same phenomenon. They also have significant support front the political establishment, even if they publicly claim to be against it. The rise on the National Front reveals just how politically polarised France has become. This is not going to change in the short-run.

If Macron wins the second round, the incoming president will apply the austerity measures he has already announced. In the end, he will be judged by his performance. If too many are hurt, his star will soon start to lose its shine. Then it is on the cards that more people will be looking for an alternative answer.

 

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