The large majority for his La République En Marche in the National Assembly elections in France has cleared the path for President Emmanuel Macron’s government to implement his ambitious, if sometimes contentious, policies. Along with its Democratic Movement allies, the LREM has won 350 of 577 seats. While the majority is smaller than the landslide many had predicted, the LREM’s performance continues to show that the old system is being crowded out, with the mainstream Socialist Party on the left and the Republicans on the right suffering severe setbacks. From running the previous government, the Socialists have been relegated to a historically low position with around 30 seats, and their leader, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, has resigned after losing his own seat. The Republicans and their allies have won 137 seats, down from 199 seats in the previous Assembly. On the far left, the Insoumise have secured more than the 15 seats required to form a parliamentary group. This is less than what their charismatic leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon had hoped for, but he himself has retained his seat and the Insoumise would be looking to develop as an opposition movement, especially in light of the attenuating Socialist Party. The far right’s Front National, with its core xenophobic and nativist philosophy seen to be damaging not just to the Fifth Republic but to all of Europe, has done better than projected but is still well short of its goal of 15 seats.
Mr. Macron’s economic policy proposals are a mix of right and left. They include cutting government spending and jobs, while investing in strategic sectors and increasing the scope of some welfare schemes. He has also proposed making labour laws more flexible. The argument that such a large majority for the LREM is dangerous is valid insofar as a strong and sizeable opposition is the cornerstone of a healthy democracy. But the ‘neither left nor right’ criticism of Mr. Macron’s policies suggests an openness in the LREM’s ideology. Additionally, some three-quarters of the new legislators did not hold a seat in 2012, and therefore they contribute to a renewal of the Assembly. Mr. Macron’s first piece of legislation on ‘moralising’ politics, which seeks to bring greater probity into public life, is also good reason for optimism. Yet, Mr. Macron would do well to remember his presidential victory speech at the Louvre — a promise to reunite a deeply divided country and bring people back from the extremes. The need for this has been brought home again by a record abstention rate for the second round of elections on Sunday, of about 57%. If the month since the presidential election is any indication, Mr. Macron is well-placed to provide the strong leadership both Europe and the democratic world seem to need at the moment. This will have to start at home, where the way is now clear for him.
Source: The Hindu – Editorials