France goes to the polls, Macron doesn’t collapse and aims to be the deciding factor. Prime Minister Attal resigns


By John

Macron loses his bet but does not collapse. His now former majority comes out of the polls with broken bones, but less than expected; and above all, given the premises, his most direct rival for the Elysée is certainly doing worse. In two weeks on the rollercoaster, the president who thought he was Jupiter has floped and can now only hope to be the swing vote in a coalition that has shifted entirely to the left, with the tribune Mélenchon attacking him and claiming the government and in which his deputies were decimated first by the legislative elections of 2022, then by today’s early ones. For some, the decision to dissolve the National Assembly after the defeat in the European elections was hara-kiri, a poker player’s gamble, for others a sin of presumption.

Many in France say they lived like a nightmare those few minutes after the announcement of the electoral humiliation of July 9, when the head of state, in an unprecedented live TV broadcast immediately after the exit polls, announced that he had already signed the dissolution of the Chambers and communicated to the astonished French the dates of the early legislative elections. After 5 years in office, in 2022 Macron was re-elected after beating Marine Le Pen with a reduced margin compared to 2017: he had dropped from 66.10% to 58.55%. And, immediately afterwards, he had lost the absolute majority in the Assemblée Nationale, 250 seats against the 361 that had allowed him to govern until then. Those 250 seats, by a decision of the same leader of Ensemble (Renaissance presidential party plus the centrists and Horizons, the movement of former prime minister Edouard Philippe) have now not been halved but almost. Even though the Macronians, despite no longer having a relative majority, managed against all odds to place themselves in second place behind the surprise New Popular Front, ahead of the far-right Rassemblement.

The president had asked the French for “clarification”, and he got it, although not as he thought and as the polls had predicted until a few hours ago. The confusion among his people in recent weeks, between stories of councils of ministers made of shouts and tears and a half-hearted desistance (with the president who pushed his people to desist against Marine Le Pen but not against La France Insoumise, followed in this by leading figures such as the minister Bruno Le Maire and Edouard Philippe) have contributed to exacerbating the chaos. With Prime Minister Gabriel Attal – who in recent weeks has asserted his own personality independent from Macron, repeatedly recalling that “the risk is the absolute majority of the Rassemblement National” and not that of the left – then the frost fell. The two, Macron and his now former protégé, no longer speak to each other. In short, the king is naked, and to understand what his plans are now we must put ourselves in “Macronian” mode: a coalition, if it will be possible to form it with the reformists of the Popular Front, the Macronian veterans, the centrists and the Républicains who will be convinced, will have in Macron and in the remains of Ensemble the needle of the balance. He, the president of the lost bet and of the crumbled popularity, will have no room for maneuver but will be able to propose, convince and direct, acting as a linchpin with his power. Not a great project for the Macronian party, already reduced to a third compared to the beginning in 2017. But the fate of the movement, given the parable of the leader, was already sealed and for the president now the goal is the promise made to the French: to arrive standing at the Elysée at the end of the mandate, in May 2027.

Attal: “I will resign tomorrow morning”

“Tomorrow morning I will resign.” French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said this, emphasizing that the vote did not produce an absolute majority. “This evening, no absolute majority can be handed over to the extremes”: this was underlined by French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, who then remarked: “Thanks to the strength of your values, we have succeeded and we have remained standing and solid.”