After the election: where is France headed?

The victory of the leftist Nouveau Front Populaire alliance in the second round of the French snap elections has left the country facing a challenging coalition-building phase. The NFP (180 seats) only narrowly beat Macron's Ensemble (163 seats) and the right-wing populist RN (143), with 289 seats needed to secure an absolute majority. Commentators examine ways out of the deadlock.

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La Tribune (FR) /

Put the good of the country above party interests

The time has come to try out new configurations in the quest to form a government, demands Franck Leroy, president of the regional council of France's Grand Est region, in La Tribune:

“Nineteen of the twenty-seven EU countries operate on the basis of parliamentary coalitions - and it works! By experimenting with an updated parliamentary system, the political forces of the republican camp can bring about this essential cultural change. Rejecting this path means putting small party interests above the interests of the country, denying the difficulties we face, neglecting the dangers posed by international tensions, and ignoring the expectations of the majority of French people.”

Visão (PT) /

Last chance for the left

France needs new ideas and approaches, says Visão:

“The sense of unity that has once again emerged in the defence of republican ideals cannot be based solely on rejection. Something really needs to change, and the democratic parties need to be able to respond to the challenges of the new era with proposals and actions that make a difference. After winning in France, the left has a last chance to reinvent itself. Otherwise it will confine itself to calling for demonstrations in the Place de la République whenever it is frightened by the voters' choices. Until it's too late.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Take voters' concerns seriously

It's time for MPs to join forces and come up with concrete solutions, Le Monde urges:

“In a National Assembly that is condemned to maintain its current composition for at least a year, it would be irresponsible to hunker down and refuse to open up. ... In the twin elections for the European Parliament and the National Assembly, voters expressed great dissatisfaction, particularly in the areas of purchasing power, public services and security. All those who want to oppose the Rassemblement National will be trusted even less if they fail to address these issues. ... In its current form, the parliamentary system offers numerous options. We need to give it time to work this out.”

Habertürk (TR) /

Pushing back hate

The election result is not just a success for the political parties, writes columnist Nagehan Alçı in Habertürk:

“The French population must also be congratulated. They were so quick to form a united solidarity against hate speech, discrimination and exclusion. They have stood up so clearly for immigrants and pluralism. We must learn from this. I don't know if you saw the pro-migrant banners on the streets of Paris. Honestly, when I saw those banners it made me think about the nasty xenophobic riots we saw last week in Kayseri and the Syrian youth who was stabbed to death in Antalya. I was ashamed.”

Válasz Online (HU) /

Uncertainty is the new certainty

Being part of the French government is not necessarily a good deal right now, says Válasz Online:

“The parties are already eyeing the 2027 presidential election and, since Emmanuel Macron can no longer run for office, the politicians who might become candidates are thinking about conquering the Elysée Palace not just as they shave before heading to work in the morning. But it does not look good to be part of a government that will undoubtedly be unstable and that will be forced to take unpopular measures. Whatever the outcome, the fragmented National Assembly guarantees that uncertainty will be the new political certainty in France.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Plurality voting system simulates shift to the left

Neither in the UK nor in France is there any cause for euphoria on the left, writes the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“At first glance one might think that the left has shown in both countries that it can still defeat the right. In reality, however, both elections are an expression of the ongoing shift to the right in many countries around the world. There is a common factor that is responsible for the election results in both France and the UK: the plurality voting system. ... In both countries, at least for the time being, it does not reflect the real majority situation. ... Those on the left should be wary of assuming that the voters are suddenly on their side once more.” (GR) /

A dilemma for the far left

Web portal Protagon takes a look at what the future holds for La France Insoumise's leader:

“This arrogant, unlikeable and self-absorbed left-wing Napoleon has achieved something that no one can dismiss: he has given the popular vote back to the left, breaking the monopoly that the far right was trying to create there. ... He is the man who defeated Le Pen. But it is likely that his historic role will end here. ... A more systemic left that wants to govern with the centre needs a leader who is very different from Mélenchon. And a more anti-system left, which will enter into a process of polarisation with the far right and the centre, will need a younger successor.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Weak Macron, weak EU

With the snap election and his weakened alliance, the French president has done himself and Europe a disservice, columnist Timothy Garton Ash complains in The Guardian:

“For all of Europe, the tragedy is that Macron has also been the most powerful advocate of what we Europeans urgently need, in an overheating world torn between Putin, Trump and Xi Jinping: more unity, more coherence, more power. ... And he has recently become the most influential west European voice in favour of increased support for an embattled Ukraine, whose fate today hangs in the balance. Only a few weeks ago, Macron was warning us that 'Europe is mortal'. Now, in an act of folly and hubris, he has stabbed both himself and Europe in the back.”

Ouest-France (FR) /

RN stronger for next election

Ouest-France points out:

“Let us not be fooled. The RN has suffered a defeat in this election but it has made gains. ... Unlike the NFP or Ensemble pour la République, the RN consists of a single bloc. It's the party that has won the most seats without alliances, the only one that can boast of having a third of the electorate to its name, and it will receive considerable new financial resources to prepare for the next elections. A long period of political stagnation or a new political leadership - which neither fulfils expectations nor responds to the fears expressed by a section of the French population during the legislative election - will undoubtedly play right into the RN's hands.”

Dnevnik (SI) /

Crippling power struggle in the offing

France is facing a political crisis, Dnevnik writes:

“The National Assembly is now divided into three large camps, each of which is far from an absolute majority and each of which negates the others' influence. The far right remains an outcast, while the pact made for the elections between the left and centre camps is unlikely to last in a government or coalition - because of their diverging programmes and opposing positions, most obviously regarding the pension reform. Even within the Nouveau Front Populaire there are irreconcilable differences, particularly between the radical La France Insoumise and the Socialists, also on the issue of aid for Ukraine.”

Turun Sanomat (FI) /

Stalemate in Paris bad for all Europe

Turun Sanomat fears that France may be incapable of effective action for some time to come:

“The alternatives are a weak minority government or a governing coalition, which is atypical for France. ... Although Macron's election result was better than predicted, his domestic reputation and foreign policy credibility are now weaker than before the elections. At worst, the stalemate in the government negotiations could last for months. A France that is paralysed in domestic politics would be bad for all Europe.”

T24 (TR) /

Solidarity against fascism

T24 pays tribute to the efforts of all those who opposed the Rassemblement National:

“It was an awakening, it was resistance! For the awakening it was necessary to see the threat, for the resistance it was necessary to stand side by side and make the effort to vote. ... And for all that it was necessary to speak out, and in particular reach - within the space of a week - those parts of the population who had not gone to the polls in the first round. ... Consensus, sacrifice and solidarity were essential for this resistance. ... Preventing a fascist government that was considered a foregone conclusion within just a week is an even greater achievement than that of the French national football team, which has only reached the semi-finals thanks to penalties and the own goals of the opposing team.”

Avvenire (IT) /

Success for a too often invisible France

Avvenire commends the numerous public figures in France who took a clear stance in the run-up to the elections:

“Those who hold the French flag high, whether in sporting competitions or on the stage, often have dual citizenship. ... Between the two rounds of voting personalities from the worlds of sport and show business - starting with national football star Kylian Mbappé and his teammates with Les Bleus - warned against the discrimination promoted by the RN in the very country whose motto is 'Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité'. At the same time, trade unions, various associations, including Christian ones, educationalists and cultural centres also made similar appeals. More than ever before, a different 'invisible France', motivated by strong feelings, has entered the electoral game.”

Cicero (DE) /

The end of reforms

Cicero eyes the prospect of a left-wing government with a sense of foreboding:

“This will pave the way for an even more expansive social and economic policy (which also affects German taxpayers and savers via Brussels), a laxer immigration policy and even more cultural warfare from above. Macron's attempts to reform and strengthen the French economy are finally a thing of the past. However, this also means that the causes for the continued rise of the RN will increase, not decrease. The social and, above all, cultural conflicts will intensify.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Mélenchon even more pro-Russian than Le Pen

Journalist Michał Szułdrzyński warns in Rzeczpospolita:

“The rejection of Le Pen's vision of right-wing populism comes at the cost of Mélenchon's left-wing populism rising to power. And that is not good news at all for Ukraine and the countries of our region. I also fail to understand why Donald Tusk felt that there was disappointment in Moscow after this election. Power in France did not fall into the hands of the pro-Russian Le Pen but was gained by an alliance in which the even more pro-Russian Mélenchon plays first fiddle.”

Público (PT) /

Macron's gamble paid off

Público is impressed:

“The political gambit unleashed by Emmanuel Macron on the evening of the European elections after his defeat to Marine Le Pen's party - calling early parliamentary elections - seemed in recent days and according to the latest polls to be a leap into the abyss. In the end this decision has shaken up the French political system and relegated Le Pen's RN to third place. Le Pen is weaker today than right after the European elections, while Macron is stronger and his party is ahead of the RN. The big victory goes to the unexpected New Popular Front.”

Libération (FR) /

Democracy defended

Libération praises the voters:

“The French have once again shown exceptional political maturity by turning out in large numbers to defend the republican values inherited from the Enlightenment which underpin our democracy. ... Values that the supposedly socially acceptable RN continues to threaten in reality. By saying no to a far-right government, the French have rejected the idea of a xenophobic, depraved, inward-looking France in which the rule of law would undoubtedly have been gradually eroded. ... The united left was the first to clearly call on voters to stop the far right in its tracks. In a way it has been rewarded for this. ... Of course its majority is only relative, but it is now obliged to do justice to the maturity of the electorate.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

An expensive extra round

Essayist Maxime Tandonnet criticises in Le Figaro the high cost of the election for the country's population:

“There is only one loser: the people of France, who acted in good faith and hoped this election would bring change but now find themselves facing a worse form of status quo, an ungovernable National Assembly and French politics descending into absolute chaos. How much will this absurd two-week psychodrama end up costing the country in terms of hysterical disunity, social tensions, radicalisation on both the right and the left, violence, fear and anxiety, dashed hopes, losses for the French economy and wasted time? France is careening into the unknown.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Stage set for a centrist government

The NFP has done well but this won't last, says Corriere della Sera:

“Not only Raphaël Glucksmann's pro-Europeans, but also François Hollande's Socialists have little in common with Mélenchon's populism and his zig-zag course on foreign policy. A majority is now being sought in parliament that reflects the somewhat unnatural coalition that has emerged at the ballot box: reform-oriented left, not anti-European right, Macronian centre. A majority that has three years to find a candidate capable not only of beating the far right, but also of representing all the souls of France and reuniting the country. Hollande, the former president, could play an important role.”

Zeit Online (DE) /

Into uncharted waters

Zeit Online also looks to the immediate future:

“President Emmanuel Macron will probably try to forge some kind of grand coalition. With sensible members of the left, his own members of parliament and moderate conservatives. In purely arithmetical terms such an alliance could perhaps even come close to an absolute majority. This is perhaps the best news of the evening: the moderate members of the National Assembly, both left and right, appear to outnumber the radicals. Nevertheless, such an alliance would be a novelty for a country that does not recognise coalitions and whose political culture has so far left little room for compromise.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

A threat to the economy

If the victorious alliance implements its plans it could trigger a veritable economic crisis, The Daily Telegraph warns:

“President Macron's decision to align himself with the Left may have more serious implications for the French economy. Its New Popular Front coalition is a hastily arranged marriage of bickering greens, socialists and communists who are promising to bring in controls on food prices, reinstate the right to retire at 60, significantly raise the minimum wage and increase business taxes. If these policies were ever enacted, they would cost the country billions of euros - and risk tipping the French economy into a bigger crisis than ever.”