France’s Macron wins even greater power – Washington Post

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French President Emmanuel Macron’s Republic on the Move party was projected to win a large majority in the parliamentary elections June 18. (Bastien Inzaurralde,Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

You’ve heard this before, but we need to say it again: French President Emmanuel Macron pulled off something extraordinary in 2017. At the beginning of January, he was a 39-year-old maverick politician with a roguish smile and no institutional backing from the country’s dominant political parties. Six months later, he is France’s unlikely 39-year-old head of state and — as the results of Sunday’s final parliamentary vote indicated — the architect of an astonishing dismantling and remaking of the country’s political establishment.

Macron’s Republic on the Move party, which was only formed last year, was projected to win at least 355 of 577 seats in Parliament — a commanding majority. The center-right Republicans will be his main opposition, albeit with a shrunken total of about 125 seats. The center-left Socialists, France’s ruling party until a few weeks ago, suffered a ruinous and perhaps fatal collapse, losing hundreds of seats and emerging with just about 48 members in Parliament.

“This Sunday, you gave a clear majority to the president of the republic and to the government,” said Édouard Philippe, France’s prime minister. “It will have a mission: to act for France. By their vote, the French, in their great majority, preferred hope to anger, confidence to withdrawal.”

Macron rides a bicycle in northern France’s Le Touquet on Saturday, the day before the final round of legislative elections there. (Christophe Archambault/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

The far-right National Front led by Marine Le Pen, whom Macron defeated in a closely watched presidential contest last month, also disappointed. While Le Pen will take a seat in the National Assembly for the first time, her party is beset by infighting and ideological debates over the way forward. The France Unbowed movement led by staunch leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon was projected to win about 19 seats and, in alliance with the Communists, might present the most aggressive opposition to Macron’s pro-business, pro-Europe agenda.

Macron’s critics suggest that historically low turnout — particularly among young people and the working class — casts his mandate into doubt. But the new makeup of the French Parliament still signals a profound moment of affirmation for Macron, who championed a “neither left nor right” brand of politics at a time when the centrist status quo seems under siege across the West.

“It’s interesting that 2016-2017 has seen a dual revolution,” said French foreign policy expert Dominique Moïsi to The Washington Post. “In the same sense that no one could have predicted the election of Donald Trump, no one could have predicted the election of Emmanuel Macron.”

Many of the people now set to enter office are political novices, drafted into Macron’s party because of their specific professional skills or technocratic training and expertise. Others abandoned the center-right and center-left to join up with a movement whose anti-establishment message rang true with voters without promising the radical disruption of more extreme parties. Half of Macron’s candidates were women; a significant proportion belong to France’s minority groups.

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