Analysis: the French left succeeds in the electoral bet, but unity is not so easy

French President Emmanuel Macron cheers on his supporters before casting his vote during the final round of the country’s legislative elections, in Le Touquet, France June 19, 2022 Michel Spingler/Pool via REUTERS

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  • The left-wing alliance more than tripled seats from 2017
  • The Alliance has divisions on Europe and nuclear energy
  • The majority sees a chance to get moderate support from the left

PARIS, June 19 (Reuters) – France’s new left-wing bloc is poised to become the biggest opposition force in parliament, but staying united will present an early test as President Emmanuel Macron’s majority seeks allies in the moderate left to push through his reform agenda.

Macron was set to lose his absolute majority in the National Assembly after projections pointed to a hung parliament that would see the left-wing Nupes alliance win 175 to 200 seats, nearly tripling his combined parties’ tally in 2017.

The bloc brings together for the first time in 20 years France insoumise (LFI), the Socialist Party, the Greens and the far-left Communists – under the leadership of veteran far-left eurosceptic Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

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He campaigned to lower the retirement age from 62 to 60, raise the minimum wage and cap the prices of essential goods. But within the alliance there are major differences, from Europe to nuclear power and the police, which have been set aside for the campaign but will be targeted by opponents.

“The rout of the presidential party is total and no clear majority is in sight,” Melenchon told his cheering supporters. “It is the failure of macronism and the moral failure of those who teach us a lesson.”

Clementine Autain, one of his top lieutenants, said the results vindicated the left’s strategy.

“This is a coming together of forces for social and ecological transformation on the basis of profound societal change,” she said.

Beyond triumphalism, the question now is whether the alliance can hold. Melenchon’s LFI party, which is expected to win around 90 MPs, slightly less than expected in opinion polls, will want to lead the left in parliament.

But the Socialists and the Greens being able to create their own parliamentary groups, it is not certain that they would support LFI on all subjects when they opposed the majority.

Internal divisions

On Sunday, senior Macron figures were already trying to drive a wedge between different factions of the Nupes alliance, accusing LFI of being a party of extremes and an unconstructive force in parliament for the past five years.

“How many times have you joined the National Front in parliament? Justice Minister Eric Dupont-Moretti posed the question to LFI pillar Manuel Bompard on France 2. “Extremes come together.”

Corinne Narassiguin of the Socialist Party, which has given France two presidents since World War II and has been a driving force behind European integration, said time would tell if the alliance would survive or was just an electoral machine.

“As in other coalition groups in Europe, we will agree on points and we will have points of disagreement,” she told Reuters. “It’s an experiment, it’s the first time we’ve had a group elected as an intergroup and it’s our responsibility to the voters (to keep it together).”

As a sign of how the ruling majority might act in the coming days, government spokeswoman Olivia Grégoire offered an olive branch to some opponents.

“On the right and on the left, there are moderates, moderate socialists… there are people who on certain bills they will be on our side,” she told France 2. is an open hand to all those who want to make the country Avance.”

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Reporting by John Irish and Layli Foroudi; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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