The crisis in Paris (and Berlin) changes everything, even if it doesn't seem like it

Let's not muddy the waters. The election in the 27 member states of the European Union that has just passed decrees the clear victory of the forces already in the majority in government in Brussels, namely the People's Party of the EPP and Ursula Von der Leyen, who not only held but gained seats compared to 2019. Therefore, no earthquake and no disavowal of the government line.

But, having said this, it is also true that the far-right parties will obtain a record number of seats in the European Parliament and this result, moreover, Panorama already foreseen, represents a harsh rebuke to the political mainstream of Brussels, indeed more precisely of what has been nicknamed the “Carolingian axis” or the Paris-Berlin political line embodied by Olaf Scholz and Emmanuel Macron, the real losers of the European electoral round.

As for the latter, the young leader of France had already feared for some time a substantial rejection by the French citizens, aware that the idyll between him and the people had already ended for some time, undermined by the perception of insecurity – which made Paris and the French suburbs are even dangerous places to live due to uncontrolled immigration and non-stop episodes relating to Islamist terrorism – as well as the aftermath of the Yellow Vest protests which, although they have reduced their actions, have not stopped of being the «rebels of France».

It was of little or no use to the president to put on his helmet and rush to announce an even stronger and more direct French commitment in Ukraine; indeed, perhaps this has convinced some last-minute undecideds to abandon the sofa for a day and rush to vote for Marine Le Pen and her Rassemblement National (RN), either out of a pacifist spirit or out of pro-Russian sympathies (which certainly in Le Pen's area Pen and the entourage of populists to his right are not lacking).

And so, punctually after Marine Le Pen doubled him in votes, Macron unleashed the supreme weapon at his disposal to put an end to a political crisis: exercising the prerogatives that the role of president grants him, he decided to dissolve the the National Assembly and really probe the feelings of the French people to understand who they really want in the Elysée, and not just in Brussels (as you can imagine, European elections count up to a certain point just like in Italy).

The legislative elections are a bolt from the blue for the French, and at the same time a clever strategic move by the head of the Elysée. Yes, because now more than ever it is important for the government to weigh the actual internal consensus of the political forces. Especially considering that in the European elections, where voting takes place in a single round and with a proportional system, abstention in France was equal to 48.2%, which is well below the national average of 74%, although slightly up on 2019 ( 49.9%). Out of a thousand people with the right to vote, in this round 159 voted for the RN, 73 for the Macronians, 70 for the socialists, 50 for La France Insoumise, 37 for the Républicains, 28 for the greens and Zemmour's right. Will the same thing happen next June 30th, in the legislative elections?

Certainly, Macron wants to avoid presenting himself at the Olympic Games – which begin on July 26 – as a president halved. And for this reason, maneuvers have already begun to stem the populist wave which really risks burying the “rebirth” project inaugurated in 2017 by the 25th President of the Republic. After achieving victory with his En Marche party, the “march” began to slow down during his second term, and so the young Macron changed the name of his group to Reinassance. But this French “renaissance” has failed on several occasions. And today's result in Europe highlights this sufficiently. That said, this may not mean the end of the centrist experience in France.

It is true that in the countryside the votes are moving increasingly to the right, and only Paris and the big cities remain a beacon of moderate politics. Just as it is true that for 30 June and 7 July hundreds of thousands of public employees had already planned to take holidays and then return home for the Paris Olympics. Therefore, discontent is an important variable, but handing over Parliament to Le Pen is a completely different story.

Already his father Jean-Marie Le Pen turned green with anger in May 1997 after the surprise announcement by Jacques Chirac, who similarly dissolved the National Assembly early. Le Pen spoke of an “electoral scam” and branded the political operation as a “coup d'état”. But in the end he had to resign himself, and those elections marked the beginning of the third cohabitation – a “cohabitation” in which the parliamentary majority and the head of state in office belong to opposing sides – between the forces of the neo-Gaullist president Chirac and the socialists of Lionel Jospin, who was elected prime minister. Chirac had already experimented with this scheme under the Mitterrand presidency. And neither he nor Chirac had to give up the presidency or resign. Indeed, cohabitation is in fact a typical formula of semi-presidential systems.

Which is why Jordan Bardella, leader of the list and president of Le Pen's Rassemblement National, who at 8pm yesterday had hailed the European vote as a “historic result” and had christened it as “the first day of the post-Macron era”, must have chewed bitterly when at 10pm the president unexpectedly dissolved Parliament. Of course, Macron's “close guard” – Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, ministers Bruno Le Maire, Gérald Darmanin, Sébastien Lecornu, Stéphane Séjourné and Yaël Braun-Pivet – are the first to fear for their future, but Marine Le Pen he knows well that another challenge is now opening up, much tougher than the one for a seat in Europe.

If, in fact, it is one thing to choose between you and Macron for the Presidency of the Republic, it is another thing to elect a new Parliament where multiple actors take part in the challenge, in a double-shift system that contemplates alliances and therefore rewards the stability of government. As the newspaper reference of the French left has already underlined, Liberation, the left thus has the opportunity to strike a blow, after the recent collapses and numerous negative performances. The left's call to arms has already taken on dramatic tones: «On the road to these unexpected but crucial elections, the French left must be aware of its historical role: to assure the French people, like their republican ancestors, that fascism will not pass» . All clear?