“Emmanuel Macron chose the riskiest solution” according to Roland Cayrol, political scientist

“Emmanuel Macron chose the riskiest solution” according to Roland Cayrol, political scientist

Will Emmanuel Macron have been disruptive to the end by announcing, to everyone's amazement, the dissolution of the assembly?

There is one constant about Emmanuel Macron: he has strong confidence in his talent, his intuition, his ability to convince people. He prepared his stunt in advance and the main leaders of the majority were in the know. Everyone had welcomed this idea with reservation because a survey (2), commissioned very discreetly by Les Républicains last December during the debate on the immigration law, gave the RN close to an absolute majority in the event of dissolution (Marine's party Le Pen obtained around 278 seats, 11 points from the absolute majority). The president said to himself that he was up against the wall, and that it was better to burst the abscess now than to let the situation rot until 2027. In this, he recalls De Gaulle throwing to the gathered Senegalese crowd on Protet Square in Dakar, in 1958: “If you want independence, take it!”.

How is this dissolution historic?

It has never happened that a president pronounces a dissolution because of a bad electoral result. In 1968, De Gaulle dissolved at the request of his prime minister, Georges Pompidou, because he feared that events in Algeria would cause him to lose the following elections. He dramatizes the situation, rushes the game, and it works. The other reference is 1997: Jacques Chirac has a majority in the assembly, which however seems insufficient. He believes he can count on his allies to expand it through new legislation; he dissolved it, but the French saw his decision as a simple political operation. And this is how Chirac found himself cohabiting with the socialist Lionel Jospin.

You mentioned it earlier: the RN can obtain or come close to an absolute majority in the next legislative elections. In these conditions, isn't dissolving a very high-risk bet when you present yourself, like Emmanuel Macron, as a bulwark against the extreme right?

The most logical thing would have been to do nothing. In each European election since 1979, we have had extremely surprising results, which have had no immediate translation into domestic politics. The European elections were seen as mid-term elections allowing people to express their frustrations and anger. But in a democratic crisis of this kind, an institutional solution must be found, and there only two possible solutions remained: dissolution or resignation. The resignation was unthinkable because Emmanuel Macron, who presented himself in 2017 as the man capable of preventing the RN from coming to government, could not be the one to desert the ship in 2024.

Was a coalition with LR not possible?

The head of state really tried, he explicitly appointed Élisabeth Borne to Matignon for this mission, but she did not succeed. Even Nicolas Sarkozy's help to his political family was of no use. The Republican apparatus is firmly decided to position itself against Macron, in opposition. Under these conditions, the only option to find an institutional solution was dissolution.

Do you think that a “republican front” can be formed against the RN in the next three weeks?

Other political forces must come to an agreement by finding points of convergence, because the unions that are hastily built for the second round do not work. However, the task will be difficult. On the left, negotiations will be tight. The balance of power has changed compared to 2022; the socialists are ahead of their Nupès ally, LFI, and are no longer willing to fall under the caudine forks of Jean-Luc Mélenchon by reluctantly adopting his radical program. They will want to rebalance the number of constituencies and candidates. To which Mélenchon will respond that radicalism is popular among young people. In short, it is not at all certain that this union of the left is possible in the majority of constituencies.

And to the right?

If an LR candidate finds himself facing the RN in the second round, supported by the opposition, the Les Républicains party will obviously do everything to ensure that he wins. But in constituencies where it has no chance of passing in the first round, LR can choose to leave the freedom of voting to its voters. In this case, we don't know where we are going.

Would a mobilization of abstainers change the situation?

We always think they will wake up due to the seriousness of the situation. But frankly, we don't know anything about it. The younger we are, the more we abstain. Does this mean that if 18-35 year olds start voting more, their ballot would automatically go to so-and-so? Impossible to answer. On the other hand, there will certainly be more participation for these legislative elections.

Some suspect Emmanuel Macron of paving the way for possible cohabitation with the RN – Jordan Bardella would be prime minister – to show voters the true nature of the Lepenist party. What do you think?

Emmanuel Macron chose the riskiest solution, especially since many Macronians will be angry with him for having organized this transition. They could well abstain, rather than rushing to his aid. Furthermore, RN officials have learned in recent years that they benefit from not making waves. They have every interest in continuing this strategy of docility towards the institutions, by only asserting themselves on two or three essential points of their program, such as on immigration, for example. They have the confidence of part of the public on this point, this can only strengthen them. Finally, cohabitation can lead the moderate right to get used to being around the RN. We observe this process of “normalization” in all European countries where the extreme right has entered into coalitions.

The RN refutes this extreme right label. .

The leadership, yes, but the majority of RN voters place the party and – what is much less emphasized – place themselves on the extreme right. The formation of Marine Le Pen, heir to the National Front, defends theses which only belong to the European extreme right, such as national preference. When we have a party with these historical roots, this theme and voters who self-define in this way, I don't see why we would call it anything else.

Basically, what did Emmanuel Macron miss?

More than immigration, it is the feeling of not being heard, respected, taken into account which brought the middle and working classes towards the RN. By choosing to focus on businesses without thinking about the redistribution of wealth, and by chasing Marine Le Pen's party on immigration, Emmanuel Macron missed the point.

1) author of My journey to the heart of the Fifth Republic (Calmann-Lévy)

2) Ipsos survey, December 2023

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