“Bien joué” – or “well played” – was sprawled across a picture of Emmanuel Macron on the cover of the newspaper Libération the day after he won the French presidential election.
And more congratulations are in order after the first round of the legislative elections. Today’s Libération cover shows Macron resting his chin on what looks like his fist – with the letters OPA, the French acronym for “corporate takeover” sprawled across the picture.
Since Macron founded his party, En Marche!, in April 2016, he has wiped out the French political establishment and captured the imagination of a large segment of the voting public despite a historic abstention rate of 51 percent in the legislative elections.
So what is the basis of Macron’s political allure?
A presidency of the future
At the end of round one of the legislative elections, Macron and his party are on pace to win more than 400 seats out of 577 in the French Parliament. This number of seats is likely to hold, or even increase, in the June 18 second round that French election law mandates in electoral districts where no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote.
The populist National Front came in third place – and they will get three to five seats, which is well below what party leader Marine Le Pen had hoped for, but more than the two seats that the National Front currently occupies. Le Pen herself seems on track to win a seat in the northern city of Henin-Beaumont during the second round. The National Front’s momentum has slowed, but it is far from gone, and Marine Le Pen is not abdicating her role as a political figure any time soon.
The far left party La France insoumise, or “France Unbowed,” led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, came in fourth place, and the French Socialists dropped to fifth. The Socialists, the party of the last president, Francois Hollande, imploded during this election cycle and may end up with as few as 15 seats. The centre right Republicans are the only former establishment party that is still a plausible political force. They came in second and trailed Macron’s party by 15 percentage points.