Will nothing remain the same under Macron?

"We don't want a majority to live a peaceful life, but to bring about reform", La République en Marche has announced ahead of the second round of the parliamentary elections. President Macron's party is set to gain an absolute majority in the National Assembly on Sunday. Commentators discuss the upheavals France is experiencing, comparing them with events of the past.

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El País (ES) /

France reinventing the guillotine

La République en Marche's election victory is pushing many veteran politicians off the stage, El País observes, noting parallels with 18th century France:

“What is happening in France is not a revolution, but there are certain similarities. Next Sunday the voters will pass judgement and bring to an end a process that is seeing heads roll, many heads. … In France, as in Spain and many other countries, the voters are tired and even shocked to see the way the politicians colonise institutions, and to realise that the parties have become agencies for horse trading posts. With his successful activities at the Rothschild bank Emmanuel Macron has proven that he doesn't need politics to get ahead in life. This is a quality that is gaining in value and that not everyone can achieve.”

Daily Sabah (TR) /

A remake of Turkey in 2002?

Macron's victory is like that of the AKP under Erdoğan's leadership in 2002, the pro-government paper Daily Sabah writes:

“It would be unfair to say that French political parties were as inefficient and as obsolete as in the case of Turkish political forces back in 2002, but it is obvious that these elections herald a new era, new challenges and new balances within the French political arena. Having tried the leaders of the two major political forces for the presidency, Nicolas Sarkozy from the Conservative camp and François Hollande from the Socialist Party, the French public has voted for a median solution: No to polarization and support for center right and center-left at once.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

A government of the ruling class

In the first round of the French parliamentary elections it was mostly voters from the upper classes who went to the polls. Political analyst Mathieu Slama explains why this is dangerous in Le Figaro:

“The risk of such a constellation is that it reduces the political institutions to a simple registration office for companies' grievances. ... The Macron government is a government of the dominant class, elected by the dominant class. Thus its mission is de facto to preserve this class's advantages and privileges. The opposition is too scattered and will hardly play a role during this legislative period. The working classes will therefore have no political representatives who can stand up for their cause and defend their interests.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

French rebellions cleverer than Anglo-Saxons'

The success of La République en Marche (LREM) in the elections is a result of dissatisfaction with the traditional parties, writes Rzeczpospolita:

“After 40 years of economic stagnation, sky-high unemployment and problems with the Muslim minority the French are saying to the traditional parties: enough! Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Party's candidate in the presidential election, won't even be a deputy and the Republicans, who were in the opposition for five years, could lose 100 seats. Half of the LREM's candidates don't have any experience in politics so far. And it looks like 43 percent of the deputies will be women. France - like the US with Trump's election and the UK with Brexit - is making a leap in the dark. But in this case we can expect the outcome to be considerably more positive than with the Anglo-Saxons.”

Marianne (FR) /

President is convincing, opposition isn't

Macron's opponents alone are to blame for the historically low voter turnout of 48.7 percent, Marianne believes:

“The opposition parties should put some thought into the enormous difficulties they had mobilising their voters. ... Because neither Emmanuel Macron's first days in office nor the initial steps of Edouard Philippe's government are responsible for the frightening drop in voter turnout on Sunday. The inability of [Mélenchon's leftist movement] La France insoumise, the Front National, the Republicans and the Socialists to embody a credible opposition is to blame. Macron's supporters came out to vote, it was the others who stayed away. This defection highlights once again the disappearance of the old and tired political world that has paved the way for Macronism.”

Diário de Notícias (PT) /

France remains true to tradition

This isn't the first time a parliamentary election has given a newly elected French president additional backing, Diário de Notícias points out:

“The victory of the president's young party confirms a French tradition of giving the newly elected head of state a majority government. … For Macron, this means he can count on considerable support which will enable him to push through his reform programme. … The historically low voter turnout for this election can be explained in many ways: by a general assumption that Macron's party would win anyway. But also by the demobilisation mainly of the far right, which had bet everything on presidential candidate Marine Le Pen winning.”

Le Temps (CH) /

Macron, the French tsunami

La Républic En Marche will fundamentally change France's political caste, Le Temps comments:

“Away with the MPs who rose through the ranks as parliamentary assistants. Away with the high-ranking officials recycled in the National Assembly. Away with the cunning MPs who know how to play tricks with legislative mechanisms, those connoisseurs of the financial apparatus of the state. ... Away with party-political tricks and perks. The most pertinent analogy for the Macron tsunami is the digital revolution. Macron's declared goal is to restore the utility of politics and involve more people in decision making. His desire not to become 'a party like the others' is clear. Welcome the cult of the leader and of innovation. The Uberisation of French politics became reality last Sunday.”

Adevărul (RO) /

Next opponent: the unions

Despite his overwhelming election victory Macron still has a long way to go, Adevărul points out:

“Macron has clear sailing ahead. Parliament will pass all the laws he wants, meaning his reforms stand a good chance of success. ... But are there any clouds on the horizon? You bet there are! The Macron hurricane may have swept away the traditional parties against the backdrop of politically immoral scandals, nevertheless the unions are still there, deeply rooted in their unbudging obstinacy. ... His success in the parliamentary elections strengthens Macron's position as leader and will allow him to put France on a new footing with a firm hand. But his government still faces a crucial test in the negotiations with the unions. Macron is still snoozing through his honeymoon but soon the alarm will start ringing.”

Les Echos (FR) /

Carte blanche for the president

Les Echos sees a clear message from the voters in Sunday's election result:

“The majority of French citizens who voted - whether right or left in orientation - want Emmanuel Macron to succeed and were willing to give him the means to do so and to vote for members of parliament they don't know and who lack experience. … They refuse to be led astray, and even chose to overlook the 'affairs' that have emerged in the initial phase of Macron's term of office. Everything points to this country being determined to believe it can create a tremendous epic. … For Emmanuel Macron this carte blanche is particularly valuable because ever since he won the election he has made no attempt to conceal his intention of implementing his first landmark reform: the revised labour law will be of a liberal nature.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Continued support not guaranteed

The Macron camp's clear victory reinforces its obligation to deliver on its promises, Der Standard concludes:

“The French want a strong leadership. This is why they have generously ignored the financial scandals that have already hit Macron's camp. But if the president doesn't live up to expectations in the long run, he'll be sorry: the people's wrath will soon turn against the successor to the Republicans' throne. Macron's democratic legitimation is less clearly defined than it would appear to be. And above all, his mission to get France back on track is extremely difficult: the French like to elect reformers, but then reject their concrete proposals. This is the core of the problem: if those reforms aren't implemented the French economy will remain in its present desolate state.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

Not as firmly in the saddle as it seems

Macron's likely victory lacks legitimacy, De Telegraaf comments:

“The decision to form a cabinet with right-wing ministers and his strong performance on the international stage have contributed to his success. … But Macron is not as firmly in the saddle as this result would seem to indicate because the extremely low voter turnout reduces the legitimacy of his majority. Now there are calls to change the system because just over a month after the presidential election the French were called on to vote yet again. Either they have no inclination to do so or they may have been influenced by the result of the previous vote. Thanks to the electoral system Macron was able to benefit from the low turnout.”

Le Courrier (CH) /

Don't accept neoliberal reforms

Hard times lie ahead for the left-wing opposition in France, Le Courrier comments:

“This promises to be a tough battle for the defenders of social achievements. Will they have enough deputies in parliament to secure the visibility and resources they need to act as a political counterforce? … And how will the social movements react to a government that seems set to wield near hegemonial power? Will they manage to stand up to a government that continually brandishes its claim to democratic legitimation after two victories in majority elections? The opposition must constantly bear in mind that in reality Emmanuel Macron and his movement represent only a quarter of the electorate. There is no reason for it to capitulate and leave the field open for attacks on workers' protection and public services.”