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Seen from Belgium, “Macron will have to get rid of the verticality of power, find compromises and forge alliances”

Unprecedented situation », « France ungovernable », « institutional blockage “… the qualifiers are not lacking to designate the outcome of the legislative elections of this Sunday, June 19, during which Emmanuel Macron was deprived of the absolute majority in parliament, generally granted to all the presidents freshly elected since the establishment of the quinquennium.

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From Belgium, the chief editorialist of the daily “le Soir”, Béatrice Delvaux, accustomed to the Belgian political landscape which is based on coalition systems, explains to “l’Obs” how this French institutional blockage was perceived there and what that he has in common with those she observes in her own country.

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What do you think of this political configuration, unprecedented in France?

We follow the French situation with particular attention: Belgium, but especially its right-wing supporters, has a fascination for the French system, its clear presidentialism, its very embodied personalities and its ability to form coherent governments. With us, it’s always been the opposite. Belgium forms coalition governments between linguistic communities with parties of different sensitivities – seven parties are currently in power in Belgium – which does not prevent the adoption of certain very clear lines, in particular on entry into the EU, or to pass very progressive laws, on euthanasia or marriage for all.

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More recently, we observe that the Belgian political system, like the French, has run out of steam. The various parties allied themselves with opponents and formed governments in a snatch. This creates a real management difficulty, which was not the case before.

Can we compare the French institutional situation to that which exists in Belgium?

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These two systems are as blocked as the other, even if they do not function a priori in the same way. The regime is dominated by the government – ​​which has been strongly denounced – and the deputies follow its proposals in a game which opposes the majority to the opposition. Parliament is now considered a recording chamber where representatives no longer decide much.

The coalition electoral system [en Belgique] used to help find consensus. But today, the parties are no longer able to find common objectives, despite major crises such as that of Covid or climate change. Moreover, the political choices of the parties in government stem more from a desire to position themselves in relation to their electorate than from making real political choices.

Is Emmanuel Macron’s practice of power in question?

What I observe is that starting from another starting point, France arrives at the same type of blockage. Politicians have perverted a system, which they have rendered inoperative by using it for partisan ends, as Emmanuel Macron did by pretending to be neither left nor right simply to stay in power, or by exploiting the front republican against the far right and then against the left. It is intellectually dishonest and politically clumsy, even if he is not the only one to bear the responsibility for the rise of Marine Le Pen in France, and the Socialist Party also has a heavy responsibility.

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After these legislative elections, a new Republic was born

Beyond the hypocrisy that it represents to call on left-wing voters to vote for him before considering that they are outside the scope of the Republic, we see that Emmanuel Macron is the subject of a form of hatred on the part of voters prepared to vote for everything except their party. From Belgium, we ourselves believed that he was going to bring a solution to the European crisis. Today, it appears rather that the construction of a movement around the ambitions of a single man is very ambivalent. If the man disappoints, it’s over; if he leaves, he leaves room for extremism, especially on the right.

Doesn’t this deadlock pave the way for a re-parliamentarization of France?

It is clear that the French will be better represented today, and even those who choose to vote for the extreme right. The fact that citizens can have deputies who resemble them in terms of social class – unlike En Marche, which rather reflected a small elite – could appease the relationship that the French have with democracy. They would feel less need to be in the street because they would have an Assembly in their image. In fact, it would again become a more lively place, and more representative of all French sensibilities.

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These elections also put an end to the practice of power by Emmanuel Macron, who appointed a government to which he leaves little power after considering Parliament as a recording chamber. He will have to get rid of verticality and find compromises, forge alliances. In other words, change the method and put an end to certain democratic lures, such as the Citizen’s Convention for the Climate, which served as a cache-sex to maintain its power over all decision-making.

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Interview by Emma Poesy

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