Today two important elections took place in Europe. One was the second round of France’s legislative election. The second was Andalusia’s regional election. The results of both were a rebuke of the ruling party. In France, where Macron was re-elected in an uncomfortably close election his coalition lost its majority. That was not a surprise. Macron won only because the name Le Pen is pure poison in France. To his credit, Macron recognised that and acknowledged as much. (An equivalent to a Marine Le Pen would be Oswald Mosley’s daughter seeking to become PM)
Macron’s coalition remains the largest in terms of MPs, but it cannot accomplish anything without the support of the opposition. Macron attempted to appeal to the centre-right coalition to support him, but they perhaps wisely rejected his overtures. They’re now the smallest formal group in the French Parliament and are desperately attempting to remain relevant. Tying themselves to a detested, outgoing and very lame-duck president isn’t their ticket to a bright political future. After all, Macron cannot stand again. A man with no political future — outside the EU, of course — with no majority? Meh. Interestingly enough, the far-left have become the official opposition. They are in no mood to compromised or cooperate with a man they see as representing everything they’re against. Le Pen’s coalition has gone up to 89 seats which is a historic record for it. France might have rejected Le Pen, but France has also rejected Macron.
In Andalusia, the increasingly nationalistic opposition — the Popular Party — won an outright majority in a region that has traditionally been the heartland of the PSOE — the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party. The parties of the left and the centre have either declined or completely been eliminated from the regional parliament. The only party to improve other than the PP were Vox which is a stridently nationalist party, the first to be in the Spanish parliament since the 1975 restoration of democracy in that country.
In both cases, the parties that improved were parties that, while not in favour of French or Spanish withdrawal from the EU, are keen on taking a page from Hungary and Poland. They might be EU members, but they’re not going to play ball and they’ll ignore everything that doesn’t suit them. Rather than becoming the de facto leader of Europe, Macron will just be a long-term placeholder. His grand ambition to replace Merkel (herself no utterly discredited) seems to have been dashed. He will not have a functional government and France will remain as ungovernable as ever. What hope has he to carry serious weight? What happens when Spain starts to actually assert itself again?