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The legislative elections in France as seen by the British media

Two days after the French legislative elections, a brief overview of the analyzes of the ballot made by British newspapers.

The results of the legislative elections are known. After the tidal wave of the Macronists in 2017, the presidential party now only has a relative majority in the National Assembly. The left, united under the banner of the New People’s Ecologist and Solidarity Union, became the first opposition force in the lower house of parliament, followed by the National Rally.

In addition to the French media, British newspapers have been widely interested in the consequences that these elections could have, both for France and for Europe. Torn between “staggering” results and a rather pessimistic vision of the future, the tabloids also see the results as a snub for the current president.

Emmanuel Macron, a “humiliated and weakened leader”

First observation made by the media across the Channel: despite the election of 245 parliamentarians from the presidential party out of the 577 in the Assembly, Emmanuel Macron has not been able to initiate the dynamic necessary to guarantee his party a majority. absolute deputies. A result attributed directly to the French head of state, according to the BBC, designating the latter as the “main architect” of its problems. Described as a “humiliated and weakened leader”, he “barely seemed to campaign”, judges the newspaper. An analysis shared by The Guardian, which describes “a terrible night” for the president.

Another lesson to be learned for Emmanuel Macron, according to British journalists: his political style, “hyperpresidential” and “sometimes authoritarian” allowed by the success of La République en Marche in the 2017 elections, “alienated him a large part of the electorate “, which has” cut the wings in a spectacular way “, estimates The Guardian. “Macron is president for five years, but without the support of more than 30% of voters,” concludes Denis MacShane, in an editorial for The Independent.

The left and the far right, big winners of the ballot

If the distrust of the French towards the former finance inspector is beyond doubt according to all the British newspapers, the BBC notes for its part the “brilliant” victory of the NUPES and the National Rally, which manage to “tear” the presidential majority. “These results mean that Mr Macron will have to strive to make new allies and accept compromises”, in particular on his proposal to “raise the retirement age”, analyzes for his part The Guardian, who also believes that the deputies most likely to vote for the laws desired by the president are to be found on the side of the Republicans.

But if the results of the united left mark the “tactical triumph” of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the “surprise” created by the large number of seats obtained by the party of Marine Le Pen worries The Guardian, which judges this breakthrough “inopportune” . A situation partly attributed to Emmanuel Macron, whose choice to demonize the NUPES as “an extreme force” contributed to “the collapse of anti-extreme right solidarity”. “Left and far-right supporters hate Macronism so much that they have stopped voting against each other,” said the BBC, echoing the words of Matthieu Gallard, of the polling institute. Ipsos.

A democratic system undermined by a high rate of abstention

Among the other points widely commented on by the tabloids is the abstention rate, which stands at nearly 54%. If the rebalancing of powers between Parliament and the executive is judged by the British media as “a good thing for democracy”, the share of French people who did not go to vote raises more concerns. “The most important party will be that of the abstainers, because neither Macron nor his two main rivals (…) have succeeded in convincing voters to go to the polls”, observes The Independent.

“Democracy is being put to the test, because France has neither leaders nor political movements that enthuse anyone,” adds Denis MacShane, who deplores the lack of “intermediaries” capable of recreating a link between citizens and “a monarchical president”. No institution, nor any trade union – which he considers “the weakest in Europe” – finds favor in his eyes. “All the citizen has to do is take to the streets,” he concludes, bitterly.

Results that threaten “British stability”

The outcome of the election also raises fears in The Independent of more strained relations between the United Kingdom and its neighbor across the Channel. Already judged to be the coldest in two centuries, the ties between the two countries risk being further deteriorated by “a French president “less admired” in England. “A weaker Macron is of no help in solving Britain’s growing Brexit problems, from the Northern Ireland row, to allowing British scientists and musicians to link up with French research institutes or to play in summer artistic festivals”, insists the newspaper.

Results which also make the archipelago fear consequences for “British stability”. A France more exposed to anti-European nationalist positions and which, moreover, no longer votes, will be the object of “dangerous political temptations for Europe” and for Great Britain, predicts Denis MacShane. Unpleasant predictions for the future, which however sum up the predominant feeling of the British media in the light of a five-year period marked more than anything by the fracture.

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