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Bets and Threats: Macron Weighs Voters' Distaste for His Party Against Fear of the Right

© AP Photo / Ludovic MarinFrench President and centrist candidate for reelection Emmanuel Macron gestures during the evening news broadcast of French TV channel TF1, in Boulogne-Billancourt, outside Paris, Wednesday, April 13, 2022
French President and centrist candidate for reelection Emmanuel Macron gestures during the evening news broadcast of French TV channel TF1, in Boulogne-Billancourt, outside Paris, Wednesday, April 13, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.06.2024
The president announced that two rounds of voting would take place just a few weeks before the Paris Olympics - one round on June 30, and the other on July 7. His announcement came not long after Jordan Bardella, the National Rally’s 28-year-old leader, called on the president to hold parliamentary elections.
French President Emmanuel Macron has dissolved the French National Assembly and called for snap parliamentary elections later this month following a major victory for his right-wing rival, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in the European Parliament vote.
Le Pen’s party is slated to win 32% of the vote, according to exit polls which is more than twice the amount of Macron’s Renaissance party.
Macron is essentially betting against his voters as his decision sends a message that, though they may be angry at him and his government, they are not so angry that they will turn to the right-wing pick of Le Pen - known for her nationalist ideology, Euro-skepticism, and anti-immigration policies - as their new head of state, the Washington Post reported.
Sputnik’s Ted Rall, a political cartoonist and syndicated columnist as well as co-host of The Final Countdown, joined The Critical Hour on Monday to discuss the possibility of a French presidency under Le Pen.
“A few months ago I said there was a strong chance [Macron] would not be the president of the republic by September. I think we are looking at that possibility and basically he sees that he's powerless at this stage,” said Rall. “He had no political or legal requirement to call an election.”
“This [is more so him] just taking the temperature of the electorate. It's a really bold move. What he's saying is, ‘look, I can't govern effectively without a mandate. Right now, I don't feel like I have a mandate. Either give me a mandate or I'm turning over the car keys to Marine Le Pen, and you guys can enjoy her’. It's basically a threat.”
The French president told his voters that he has “heard [their] message” and that he “will not let it go without a response." He added that "France needs a clear majority in serenity and harmony," but said that he could not resign himself to the right-wing's progress "everywhere in the continent".
Sputnik’s Garland Nixon prompted Rall, and asked him what his prediction was for France’s political future.
“Macron is a canny [person] and he could pull this [off],” said Rall. “But I think France is a very different country today. I mean, the politics are radically different. And if they're really personalized and they're very populist, the age of the technocrat embodied by Macron is really drawing to an end.”
“The one detail out of yesterday's election results is that the left-wing party, La France Insoumise - which basically means France in uprising or rebellious France, led by Jean-Luc Melenchon who is also a left-winger but [is] a populist like Le Pen - they picked up seats, too,” Rall explained. “Only the populist parties picked up seats in the EU elections. So, we'll see what happens, but my instinct tells me it's going to probably be Le Pen, which would be absolutely earth shattering.”
“[Le Pen has] just played the long game. She's been a perennial candidate in cycle after cycle after cycle, just slowly increasing the share of the party, making alliances, reaching out to the young,” Rall said.
“Her party, by American standards, would not really be considered that conservative. It would be sort of a centrist party in the US. The French right-wing, including her party, accept the welfare state. They accept climate change and science,” he added. “And so, if she comes to power, yeah, she'll be pushing an agenda, but - and definitely France will move to the right - but the friendship of state takes a long time to turn around. It has an inertia of its own.”
Nixon then asked Rall how a Le Pen presidency could affect the Ukraine conflict.

“Le Pen has not been completely opposed to supporting Ukraine. She was partly in the tank for Ukraine. I would say the best way to interpret her stance is that she's a tepid interventionist. She's not a total isolationist,” Rall explained. “If you're Zelensky and you're looking to France, you're not going to get the kind of full-throated support that you're currently getting from Macron. This is bad news for Zelensky and for Ukraine, but it's not catastrophic.”

“And I think fundamentally, most people who support the Rassemblement National are people who are isolationist, they don't want to see French tax dollars going overseas when the French standard of living is shrinking and the welfare state is imperiled. So most Frenchmen these days would like to see the money directed more toward their own domestic needs.”

“I suspect she is deeply suspicious of deindustrialization. She's deeply suspicious of the project of expanding NATO eastward,” the political cartoonist added. “That's something that her party and her people have always been against. So, I do think that you're going to be looking at a France that is pushing back in sort of the 1960s Gaullist tradition against the Americanization of France.”

Sputnik reported on Sunday that during US President Joe Biden’s trip to France to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landing of Allied troops, Macron had been “playing host to the US leader with all the pomp and circumstance befitting a state visit”.
However, the performance of peace between the two could not conceal the underlying tensions felt by both leaders. While the French are frustrated by the Biden administration's “overbearing approach to trans-Atlantic leadership”, the US is equally as exasperated by Macron’s “increasingly warmongering thirst for asserting his country’s independence from the US.
French President Emmanuel Macron (R) shakes hands with US President Joe Biden during an official state dinner as part of US President's state visit to France on June 8, 2024.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.06.2024
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“It's weird because you're looking at a president who came in with the biggest, basically, National Assembly coalition in postwar parliamentary history. And yet, he never really somehow clicked with the average French voter,” said Rall of Macron.
“So, he's really popular, but he had a lot of support, but that support wasn't deep. It was wide, but shallow. And now he's coming up against Marine Le Pen whose support was a little narrower than his, but was much deeper. In that sense, it's kind of like a Biden-Trump analogy. And now the problem for him is her support now is wide as well.”
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