The Brief – France’s political scene in chaos

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Opinion Advocates for ideas and draws conclusions based on the author/producer’s interpretation of facts and data.

The Brief is Euractiv's afternoon newsletter. [EPA/TERESA SUAREZ]

Three days after the European elections and Emmanuel Macron’s dissolution of the National Assembly, the French political landscape is a field of ruins.

The far right is on the cusp of taking power in the upcoming snap election, the leader of the old Gaullist party Les Républicains (LR) wants to ally with Marine le Pen for a bowl of soup, the presidential camp is in disarray, and the left is trying to unite within a “Popular Front” with as yet uncertain contours.

Mixed feelings prevail in (part of) the country: anxiety about the abyss that could open up in two and a half weeks, and the unhealthy certainty that this was inevitably going to happen anyway.

A hundred reasons can explain the rise of Le Pen’s Rassemblement national, and all of them will be valid, but one is essential: When someone is offered a ladder, they usually end up climbing it.

By regularly organising deadly face-offs with the far right since the 2017 presidential election, with the aim of destroying the opposition, Emmanuel Macron has legitimised the RN as a credible adversary and paved the way for their reign.

Here is an observation that reminds us of an essential and reassuring fact: The political word still carries weight. It drives the dynamics of a society, ensures its cohesion and sets its frameworks. It chooses to include and protect, or to reject and divide.

Perhaps it’s time to quote the Italian political thinker Antonio Gramsci: “The old world is dying, the new world is slow to appear, and in this chiaroscuro emerge monsters”.

But that would be too easy, as the reference has been worn to the bone, not to mention the fact that the “old worlds” are dying with surprising regularity, and the monsters are already all around us.

Let’s focus instead on something else: For the past three days, we’ve all been talking politics – about the left and about the right – in the streets, in cafés, in companies. Exchanging comments, but also ideas, which is already a good thing

So much so that everyone seems to have forgotten about the European Football Championship starting in Germany this week, the route of the Tour de France, or the Paris Olympics that start on 26 July, less than three weeks after the snap election’s second round.

With 18 days to go until the first round, all scenarios are still possible and Macron’s gamble is still on. The past few days are proof of that. In the meantime, let’s talk politics as much as we can.

The Roundup

The EU will impose additional tariffs of 17.4% to 38.1% on electric cars produced in China, the European Commission announced on Wednesday (12 June), prompting strong condemnation from the Chinese government, which threatened to “take all the necessary measures” to defend its companies.

After a day of “difficult” negotiations, Hungary confirmed on Wednesday that it will not hinder future NATO military aid to Ukraine, but was also promised the right not to take part in such efforts.

The EU elections’ results have disappointed all mainstream parties in Athens as Greeks turned their backs on all politicians with an all-time high abstention rate.

Don’t miss this exclusive opinion piece on the EU and the Western Balkans by the former prime ministers of Greece and North Macedonia.

The EU’s increased defence spending priorities must not come at the expense of development aid, as this could risk isolating the continent geopolitically, the Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen warned in an interview.

For more policy news, check out this week’s Green Brief and the Health Brief. Plus, Euractiv’s agri-food hub has identified all incoming lawmakers likely to influence agricultural policy over the 2024-2029 mandate.

Look out for…

  • Commissioner Wopke Hoekstra in Finland on Thursday, meets with national authorities and stakeholders around climate action matters.
  • Justice and Home Affairs Council on Thursday-Friday.
  • G7 summit in Italy on Thursday-Saturday.

Views are the author’s

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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