French President Emmanuel Macron’s election gamble puts French democracy on the table

French President Emmanuel Macron’s election gamble puts French democracy on the table

Two neighbouring countries are approaching elections that were called out of the blue. Both have governments that are expected to fall. In both countries political tensions have divided families and friends. . At this point, all attempts to draw parallels between the British and French elections must cease. Because however much might be at issue in the UK election – and there is much – it pales next to the stakes that have been raised across the channel.

Here in France, it is not just the fate of a government or a leader that is in the air – but of a political system.
And the risks are not of disappointed hopes and crushed careers, as in a peacefully functioning democracy, but of actual violence. The situations are very different,” says veteran French commentator Nicolas Baverez. “In the UK you are at the end of a political cycle. It was totally rational for Rishi Sunak to call an early election and everything is taking place in line with the UK parliamentary system. In France we are jumping into the unknown.
President Macron astounded the country two weeks ago when he called the snap vote in reaction to his trouncing by the far right at the elections to the European parliament.

He appears to have thought that a lightning campaign would startle voters out of their flirtation with the “extremes”, and return a centrist majority to the National Assembly. A week ahead of the first round, nothing suggests that his calculation was correct. The far-right National Rally (RN) is still way ahead in the polls, and now there is a left-wing alliance – whose main component is the far-left France Unbowed (LFI) – that is poised to come second. The likeliest outcomes are either an outright RN majority – and so a far-right government – or a hung parliament that spells paralysis.

Either way, says Baverez, the risks are threefold: first, a crisis of France’s sovereign debt, as the markets defy the French government much as they did the UK’s erstwhile Prime Minister Liz Truss. Second, violence on the street. And third, institutional collapse. Our Fifth Republic was designed to get us through crises. But we are in a very unstable situation. The citizens are lost because the president himself is lost, so we may have a brutal break-up of the institutions. Across France people are aware that the country is at a dangerous crossroads.

Source: BBC

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