Traditional French parties experience defeat

François-Xavier Bellamy, leader of the right-wing party Les Républicains (LR) list, did not do well in the European elections. [EPA-EFE/STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN /

The two main political groups in the European Parliament are losing ground but will remain the powerhouses in the new assembly. However, the traditional political forces on both the right and the left collapsed in France during the European elections. EURACTIV France reports.

The European People’s Party (EPP) will have 179 elected members, and the Social Democrats (S&D) will have 150. Both remain far ahead of the third largest political group, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), who have a total of 107 seats.

But in France, the two traditional political families, conservatives and socialists, are not seeing the same success. The right-wing party Les Républicains (LR) will only have seven MEPs, whereas the French socialists will have five (six after Brexit).

The disintegration of the left started a while ago in France. The party’s break-up during the 2017 presidential election generated a real crisis.

And in the absence of candidates or a programme that could bring the left together, the French Socialist Party (PS) tried to save the situation by uniting with Place Publique, a civil society movement.

Complete failure by the so-called “Trocadero” right

Although Les Republicains did not experience many divisions, a large part of its traditional electorate rallied behind the parties of French president Emmanuel Macron or far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

In the European Parliament elections, the party was therefore left with 8% of the French votes, a very small conservative core.

The term “Trocadero” is given to conservatives who supported the French presidential candidate François Fillon against all odds in 2017. They supported him despite several corruption cases and despite his links to anti-gay marriage groups Sens Commun and Manif pour tous.

The term comes specifically from the time his supporters marched in torrential rain to support his presidential candidacy at Place du Trocadéro in Paris on 5 March 2017.

Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, inspired by right-wing politician Alain Juppé, denounced this radical and intolerant right during the campaign.

LR’s head of list, François-Xavier Bellamy, and particularly LR president Laurent Wauquiez, have not hesitated to show how radical their positions are, notably in relation to migrants. Bellamy also stated that he is “personally” against abortion.

Fillon showed support for François-Xavier Bellamy, which he reiterated on Saturday (25 May). This was undoubtedly counter-productive as the electorate appears quite tired of the turpitudes of its own members.

While the Communist Party disappears, the Greens flourish

On the left, the French Communist Party (PCF) is officially wiped off the map. For the first time since the European Parliament exists, the party will have no MEPs.

However, Green voters came out strong in these elections. If we add the votes in favour of all French Green parties, including the animalist party (2%), the Urgence Ecologie party (1.8%) and Europe Ecologie les Verts (13.4%), then they were supported by a total of 5 million voters.

Once confined to a few radicals, the choice to go ‘Green’ was made mainly by young people and executives, and this time older voters were also seduced.

Macron’s LREM targets the far-right at European elections

The French Minister for European Affairs already crosses swords on a regular basis with the far-right Rassemblement National and its fake news. This could prove useful practice for the upcoming election campaign. EURACTIV France reports.

Macron’s party is showing resilience

Finally, those disappointed with Macron’s politics remained discreet.

The party of the young president actually showed resilience, as it obtained nearly 23% of the votes in the third election in which it is running. This confirms a support base very close to that of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, whose electorate has undoubtedly become more mobilised.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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