Just two months after a resounding victory in the French presidential election, Emmanuel Macron suffered a shock in the country’s legislative elections as his La République en Marche party won 245 seats but fell well short of the 289 needed for an absolute majority. .
The result leaves Mr Macron presiding over a minority government, forced to settle with a coalition partner or discuss bill by bill to keep his economic reform agenda afloat as France, like much of from the rest of Europe, is struggling to meet a cost. of the crisis of life and rising inflation.
The revolt was led by candidates from Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally, who surged after his defeat in April to claim 89 seats in the lower house, and a recently formed left-wing coalition known as the New Union Populaire Ecologique et Sociale (abbreviated “Nupes” and otherwise billed as United Front), which won 124 seats.
Nupes is led by fiery socialist Jean-Luc Melenchon, who struggled to contain his joy at the result.
“It’s a totally unexpected situation, absolutely unprecedented, the rout of the presidential party is total,” exclaimed Mr. Mélenchon after the start of the results.
“They wanted to avoid defeat at the cost of dishonor. Tonight they have both defeat and dishonor.
The veteran left-winger and leader of La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) also contested the April presidential election alongside Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen and finished third, later vowing to become prime minister to “restart the system”.
Born in Tangier, Morocco, on August 19, 1951, the son of a postmaster and a teacher, Mr. Mélenchon moved to Normandy with his family in 1962 and then obtained a degree in philosophy at the University of Franche -Comté in Besançon before embarking on his own teaching career.
He left this profession in September 1976 to enter left-wing politics and join the Socialist Party (PS), developing a federal newspaper dedicated to cementing a union between his camp and the French Communist Party, being a senator for Essone from 1986 to 2000 and Minister of Vocational Education under Prime Minister Lionel Jospin between 2000 and 2002.
Mr Mélenchon returned to his senatorial constituency between 2004 and 2010 but, gradually becoming more and more disappointed by what he saw as the progressive drift of the French socialist movement from radicalism towards centrist compromise, he finally abandoned the PS in 2008 to form the Participating Left and be its co-president alongside Martine Billard.
He represented this company as a member of the European Parliament for south-west France, serving from 2009 to 2017, and when the party duly joined the Left Front coalition, he ran as a presidential candidate. of this body in 2012, finishing fourth.
Mr Melenchon’s real breakthrough came with the founding of La France Insoumise in February 2016, with whom he ran for president again in 2017, winning 19.6% of the vote when Mr Macron was swept to the power before improving that result this spring when the young president was re-elected, the left this time with 21.95 percent.
His latest project unites France’s socialist, communist and environmentalist parties and sees him continue to act as a thorn in the side of Mr Macron, capitalizing on widespread public dissatisfaction with the state of the economy in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Nupes offered the electorate no less than 650 different policies to fix France while candidly admitting that its own members disagreed on at least 33 of them.
In a nutshell, he approves of raising the minimum wage, lowering the retirement age, taxing wealthy elites, creating jobs and fixing the price of essential everyday consumer goods.
The agreement is less clear between its members on international issues, in particular concerning the EU and NATO.
Mr Macron scorned the collective’s politics last week, dismissing its manifesto, pointing out: “They quote the word taxation 20 times and the word prohibition 30 times, which gives you a pretty clear idea of the spirit of their program. “
But the old ember has since left him with a lot of thinking to do.