French Left alliance could topple Macron’s presidential majority

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) with La France Insoumise (LFI) president Jean-Luc Melenchon (L) in September 2021. [EPA-EFE/LUDOVIC MARIN / POOL MAXPPP OUT]

France’s new left-wing bloc has made steady progress in the polls and is threatening President Emmanuel Macron’s presidential majority ahead of the upcoming legislative elections, a poll from Tuesday (31 May) shows. EURACTIV France reports.

Until a few weeks ago, the presidential majority, Ensemble!, comfortably dominated election forecasts.

However, the NUPES alliance of the main left-wing parties that rallied behind Jean-Luc Mélenchon ahead of the legislative elections has enjoyed positive momentum ever since its formation.

For now, it has not yet reached the majority in the polls, but an Ifop-Fiducial poll published Tuesday for broadcaster LCI indicated Macron is now heading towards a more marginal majority.

According to the Ifop study, Macronist MPs are slated to obtain between 275 and 310 seats. 289 seats are needed for an absolute majority.

An Ipsos study conducted in mid-May, with a very large sample group of 11,400, predicted a slightly higher proportion of votes to the Macronists: 290 to 330.

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No campaign, no majority?

The poll still puts the presidential camp ahead of other parties. However, with a vote proportion of 26-27% being predicted for the first round, it is not so far from the 25% and the 21% predicted for the Left alliance and Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National respectively.

While voting intentions for the parties have not drastically changed since recent polls, the number of seats now predicted for the presidential majority has dropped significantly.

Before the left-wing bloc was formed around the start of May, polling institutes estimated MPs of the presidential majority would obtain between 330 and 370 seats. Throughout the month of May, predictions dropped to approximately 300 to 350.

The downward trend has also continued, albeit very slightly, since the appointment of Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne’s government, with 275 and 290 seats being predicted at the low end of the range and 310 to 330 being predicted at the upper end.

The reasons for this drop are manifold, but a leading factor is likely to be that the presidential camp has not been involved in the legislative campaign – a strategy that paid off in the presidential election, but may not be sufficient this time around.

Left dominating the media and political space

Compared to the Macronist camp and even the far-right, the Left has dominated the media and political space, outlining 650 political measures it intends to take.

The Left alliance has also been vocal on issues that have plagued the first weeks of the Borne government.

For example, left-wing leaders called for newly-appointed Solidarity Minister Damien Abad to resign following the rape allegations levelled against him, and criticised the interior ministry’s law enforcement doctrine following the violent clashes that erupted outside the Stade de France during the Champions League final on 28 May.

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Because of the alliance between the four left-wing parties, voters are not split over which parties they should vote for, even if some candidates have decided not to respect the bloc’s sharing of constituencies – according to which 70 of 577 constituencies are divided between Socialists, while the Communists and the Greens are set to get respectively 50 and 100.

The left-wing bloc aims to obtain a majority in the National Assembly so that Macron faces a so-called “cohabitation” situation, forcing him to appoint Mélenchon as his prime minister.

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Low turnout

However, all polling institutes forecast a low turnout in the legislative elections, with Ipsos estimating a 47% turnout rate in a study from 23 May, very close to Ifop’s projection (48%).

This could particularly disadvantage the left since only 47% of left-wing voters are expected to vote in June, compared to 62% of Macronists, and 57% of right-wing voters.

The left-wing bloc is unlikely to benefit from those who remain undecided, as only 30% of voters who say they do not identify with any party are expected to cast a ballot.

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[Edited by Nathalie Weatherald]

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