French election: what lies ahead for Europe?

After the electoral victory of the far-right Rassemblement National (RN) in the first round of the parliamentary election in France, European commentators look at the potential consequences outside France. Are fundamental EU values and strategies under threat? Are the common economic policy, Western orientation and support for Ukraine at stake?

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Le Figaro (FR) /

A country without a vision

Le Figaro laments that the truly important topics were not addressed in the election campaign:

“There was no talk of Ukraine, the war economy, the environment, the social model, long-term public finances, technology or Europe's lagging behind the US. The Nouveau Front Populaire has confined its programme to pure demagoguery, the RN has reduced its platform to a stodgy catalogue. The presidential camp, zombified by its own leader, no longer has any programme whatsoever, with the withdrawal of the unemployment insurance reform on Sunday marking the last allegory of this dissolution. France, over-indebted and facing considerable challenges, lacks a strategy. ... There are only individual projects focused on the presidential election in 2027.”

Abbas Gallyamov (RU) /

Stance on Ukraine not decisive

The election did not mark a significant turnaround in favour of Russia, political scientist Abbas Galliamov explains on Facebook:

“It would be a mistake to think that the strong results of the French far right had anything to do with their stance on the war in Ukraine. That's the last thing French voters care about. At the top of the list of problems is migration. ... People no longer believe that Macron and his cohorts can solve this problem, so they're pinning their hopes on the far right. ... As far as the stance on the war is concerned, the Russians have nothing to gain. Last winter YouGov asked the French straight out who they wanted to see as the winner: 58 percent of respondents named Ukraine while only 11 percent named Russia.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

The end of fundamental principles

Corriere della Sera fears the worst:

“If the Le Penists keep their promises, it will be the end of Europe. The end of the fundamental principle that the laws of the community take precedence over national laws. The end of shared debt and shared defence, of the PNRR recovery and resilience plan, of the Eurobonds, of European solidarity with Ukraine. For France, it's semi-suicide, because France's strength is more political than economic. ... If you look at things rationally, France's political arena lies in Europe. ... But reason has been sleeping for some time now.”

Die Welt (DE) /

No threat to the EU

The daily newspaper Welt offers words of reassurance:

“Most people are interested in preserving a balance between nation and Europe, in their own language and culture, and in retaining some control. But this certainly doesn't mean they want to do away with the EU or the euro. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Marine Le Pen only started to have a real prospect of coming to power when they toned down their nationalism. Are they wolves in sheep's clothing, as some suggest? No one knows. But it's much more likely that they too will be held in check by Europe's rules of equilibrium if they want to govern. The danger facing Europe is not that far-right parties are gaining power. The danger is that Europe loses its balance. Too much nationalism will destroy the peace project. But so will too much Europe.”

Le Quotidien (LU) /

RN's dangerous ties to Moscow

France will become an international risk factor for the West, Le Quotidien warns:

“The pro-Russian leanings of Jordan Bardella's henchmen are well known. There is an obvious risk that the Kremlin will be able to pull strings now, thanks to its well-implanted RN collaborators. ... There are a number of state secrets that could very quickly make their way to Moscow in exchange for a few suitcases full of euros. This will considerably change the perception of France among its historical allies. ... Other European countries also have far-right governments, but they work in coalition with more traditional parties. ... Quite simply, France is at risk of falling into a precipice and remaining stuck there for several years.”

Adevărul (RO) /

Europe's far right split over Ukraine

RN chairman Jordan Bardella recently surprised everyone by expressing pro-Ukrainian views. Adevărul wonders how serious the party really is about this:

“At the moment, the change of discourse at the top level in the European game is of enormous importance. ... The fact that the leader of the party once led by the Le Pen family, a key symbol of the radical and extremely vocal far right in France and Europe, is talking about 'Russian imperialism' is in itself a revolution and not just a simple change of course, as is so common in politics. ... It's the first sign that under the current political pressure a fault line is beginning to open up within the 'old guard' of the major far-right parties, at least in the EU.”

Postimees (EE) /

Try to understand voters' concerns

Postimees ponders how to cope with the new situation in Europe:

“In Europe, everything is interlinked, including domestic and foreign policy. The fact that the far right is gaining popularity in France, Germany and also Italy could mean that aid to Ukraine is discontinued and more emphasis placed on anti-immigration policies. ... But we shouldn't moan about this. We need to understand why voters in many European countries have decided to vote this way and be able to work with new governments and political forces if necessary. The middle classes in Europe have distanced themselves from the ruling elites, who are failing to respond to their interests.”