“Mélenchon wants to destroy the center to establish a face-to-face with the RN” – L’Express

Melenchon wants to destroy the center to establish a face to face

This is a victory presented as “historic” for the left. On Sunday, July 7, the New Popular Front emerged victorious from the legislative elections, relegating the National Rally – which had come out on top in the first round – to third place. Speaking to L’Express, Gérard Grunberg, emeritus research director at the CNRS, does not speak of a “victory for the left”, but of the success of a “one-minute cartel”, or the ephemeral alliance of two camps against the Le Penist clan, the outcome of which will be, according to him, “an ungovernable country for a certain time”. The political scientist analyzes Emmanuel Macron’s responsibility in this situation, but also the obstacles and choices that the left-wing coalition will face. Interview.

L’Express: In view of the results of the second round of legislative electionshas the “clarification” that Emmanuel Macron called for of his wishes taken place?

Gerard Grunberg: It all depends on what we call a clarification… If the idea was to confirm what the 2022 legislative elections had already shown, namely that there is no alternative majority to the former Macronist majority, the proof is given to us by the result of these legislative elections. None of the three political poles seems capable of gathering an absolute majority because, in this system of tripolarization, the alliance of two of them will always be against the third, whoever it may be. We are therefore heading towards a situation where the country will have no clear majority and therefore ungovernable for a certain time. If, on the contrary, the president hoped to regain an absolute majority, this objective was unattainable given the result of the European elections.

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What is Emmanuel Macron’s responsibility in this situation?

Dissolution is a political act of great importance and very risky. I don’t know what Emmanuel Macron expected from it exactly. If he thought he could reverse the European vote, he was wrong. If he wanted to rush the RN to power without waiting for 2027, he did not achieve his goal. If he thought the left would not unite, he forgot its history. His responsibility lies above all, in my opinion, in the fact of not having created the conditions necessary for the success of his dissolution project, by rushing the movement and making its supporters despair. He is responsible for having created a situation that leaves the country without a government and without political prospects.

His monarchist imagination did not prepare him to take sufficient account of the various elements necessary for building a parliamentary majority, particularly the question of the voting method. After the 2022 elections, which deprived him of an absolute majority and produced a tripolarization of the political space, he would have been interested in proposing the adoption of a proportional voting method in order to encourage the formation of parliamentary coalitions that would escape the left/right divide. Today, the president seems satisfied to the extent that the RN lost these elections. But isn’t that just a postponement?

Was reforming the system to move towards a proportional voting method, at the height of the rise of the National Rally, really feasible (and desirable)?

To be honest, I don’t know if it was feasible. Both the left and the right regret the time of bipolarization and are waiting for us to return to that situation. They don’t think, or not yet, in the context of tripolarization. They don’t seem, or not yet, to believe that such a reform is in their interest. To counter the RN, the other two poles have formed a one-off alliance that will in no way be able to turn into a government coalition. With proportional representation, the parties would not be obliged to make agreements between themselves before the elections in the hope of keeping their seats, thus having a strategic autonomy that would allow them to form government coalitions after the elections. This is how most European political systems that are parliamentary regimes work.

READ ALSO: Be careful, an RN voter very rarely goes back, by Arnaud Lacheret

Parliamentarianism is often said to be an art of compromise. Is our political class still capable of this?

Listening to political leaders contemplate the future on Sunday evening, it is far from certain. Of course, most of the leaders of the left-wing coalition recalled that power is now in Parliament and no longer in the Elysée, which is true insofar as it is the political groups in the Assembly that will form the next government and not the President of the Republic, even if he is the one who will appoint the new Prime Minister. But, almost none of them considered possible compromises with other political parties. François Hollande, elected in Corrèze, considered that there was nothing to be gleaned as an ally beyond the left and demanded, like Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Olivier Faure, the formation of a left-wing government that would fully implement its program, without even mentioning its minority position in the Assembly. The LR leaders, for their part, do not intend to ally with anyone. Thus, Sunday’s vote was only a vote against, bringing together for a moment parties that have no intention of governing together tomorrow.

Listening to you, one gets the feeling that the victory of the left bloc is not really one…

Because that is not the case! The defeat of the Le Pen camp was only due to the ephemeral alliance of the two other camps. It is therefore not a “victory of the left”, but the success of a “one-minute cartel”, to use an expression that dates back to the Third Republic. An alliance that was quickly forgotten, since when the results were announced, Olivier Faure once again equated Emmanuel Macron’s “ultraliberalism” with Marine Le Pen’s “fascism”! To speak of a victory, the NFP would have had to obtain 289 seats, but it obtained 182. and one can think that a new left-wing government including LFI would be quickly censored by the new Assembly.

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Could this election not represent an opportunity for the left to truly come together over the long term?

No, I don’t think so. It is no coincidence that, at the time of Nupes as today, there was not a single left-wing group in the Assembly. Let us recall that on the eve of the European elections, the left was deeply divided – the head of the socialist list, Raphaël Glucksmann, rejected the idea of ​​an alliance with LFI. Even if the two parties signed a common government program, it is permissible to doubt that they would agree among themselves to implement it tomorrow if they were in power. Too many profound disagreements separate them in reality.

Is the New Popular Front already obsolete, with the PS and France Insoumise irreconcilable?

He will already stumble at the start on the question of the leader of this front, that is to say of the person who will be presented as Prime Minister of a left-wing majority. Above all, this front can only remain united in opposition. Indeed, if the socialists really want to govern, they will have to reach a compromise with the centre and form a government of “concentration” as they used to say.

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What LFI will not want. I bet that for the moment, the socialists are not ready for it. First, the PS has, since its creation in 1905, never really deviated from its tradition of allying itself to govern only with groups that are on its left, and not on its right. Then, remaining in opposition is always easier because to the extent that the left-wing electorate wants unity, internal disagreements can be more easily camouflaged. Do the socialists really want to return to power? The question is asked.

But can the left bloc do without rallying around a centrist fringe?

This bloc can only exist in opposition. Historically, the socialists and communists have never governed together for long since 1920: two years in 1946-1947, three years in 1981-1984 and five years in 1997-2002, that is, ten years in a century. Jean-Luc Mélenchon will not agree to ally himself with the center that he intends to destroy in order to establish a face-to-face with the RN – and the center does not wish to ally itself with him either.

READ ALSO: Be careful, an RN voter very rarely goes back, by Arnaud Lacheret

Once again, in the current situation where the NFP does not have an absolute majority, the PS must choose between uniting the left in opposition or breaking it up to ally with the center. After last Sunday’s electoral success, with a gain of seats for the PS, I do not see it changing its strategy quickly. It has regained its color since 2022 and I think it will remain attached to La France insoumise and therefore to its maximo leader. The Glucksmann moment could well have been just a parenthesis. You only have to read the program that the Front adopted to see that if there are divergences with LFI on foreign and European policy, the agreement on economic policy is real.

Should we understand that Jean-Luc Mélenchon is destined to occupy a place of choice in this coalition?

Mélenchon proclaimed himself leader of the NFP on Sunday evening. LFI’s partners will probably be able to prevent him from being the Prime Minister designated by the left, but they will not be able to prevent him from remaining its main figure, especially since he will be able to block the path of any other member of LFI. Let us also remember that LFI is the largest left-wing group.

The fact remains that in the United Kingdom, the success of Keir Starmer seems partly linked to the more centrist and pro-business line he has given to Labour, after a past marked by accusations of anti-Semitism targeting Jeremy Corbyn…

Certainly, but the case of the United Kingdom is not comparable to that of France. Beyond the fact that Keir Starmer has effectively broken with the Corbyn doctrine, the voting system is radically different from that of France. The British first-past-the-post majority vote has succeeded in maintaining the two-party system in this country. There is no party to the left of Labour. The United Kingdom has experienced alternations between Conservatives and Labour for a very long time. Furthermore, as in Germany where the Social Democratic Party broke with Marxism in 1959, Labour, at the end of the last century with Tony Blair, broke with the Marxist left. The return of the Trotskyists with Corbyn was only a parenthesis, moreover electorally disastrous. The Socialist Party, for its part, has never carried out its doctrinal revision.