Eurosceptic left-wing coalition could bring France into collision with Brussels
PARIS – Winning next month’s legislative elections may be a long shot for France’s new hard-left alliance, but the fact that President Emmanuel Macron now faces two Eurosceptic opposition blocs should worry EU partners in France.
The French left this week united under the leadership of a Eurosceptic party that wants to ‘disobey’ EU rules and ‘destabilize the Brussels machine’, deviating for the first time from the pro-EU stance of previous left-wing coalitions.
This reflects a new state of affairs in French politics with the Socialist Party, long the dominant force on the left and engine of European integration, now reduced to a subordinate role in an alliance forged by far-left brandon Jean- Luc Melenchon.
The Socialists garnered a meager 1.75% of the vote in April’s presidential election, while Melenchon, a fiery orator who leads the France Insoumise (France Insoumise) party, won 22%, nearly beating the leader of extreme right Marine Le Pen in the second round against Macron. .
A poll released this week by Harris Interactive shows the left-wing alliance neck and neck with Macron’s party and its allies with 33% of the popular vote. However, France’s two-round voting system means, according to the pollster, it would still likely result in a majority of seats for the president.
Heir to ‘no’
Melenchon is the heir to the victorious “no” campaign of France which rejected the ratification of a European Constitution during a referendum in 2005, deeply dividing the left.
Breaking with pro-EU Socialists in 2008, Melenchon founded a party that in 2017 did not rule out pulling France out of the EU if the bloc refused to let it deploy its spendthrift protectionist platform.
The new alliance, which also includes Greens and Communists and will fight under the banner of “People’s Social and Ecological Union”, says it wants to stay within the EU and does not want to abandon the euro.
However, some of his policies would certainly put France on a collision course with Brussels.
He wants to cut the retirement age from 60 to 60, raise the minimum wage by around €100 a month, nationalize former French electricity and gas monopolies EDF and ENGIE and stop complying with budget limits. and EU competition rules.
In the document sealing their alliance, the Socialists said the concept of “disobeying” EU rules reflected the “different history” between them and Melenchon’s party, and that they preferred to say they could ” temporarily infringe” European law.
But they add that their common goal is to “put an end to the liberal and productivist course of the EU” and that this could be done by creating “tension” with Brussels.
Euroskeptics on both sides
When asked how they would manage to get Brussels to swallow the pill, members of Melenchon’s party said the sheer size of the French economy within the bloc meant the EU would have no other choice. than to accept – unlike the situation faced by the far-left Greek government. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who lost a confrontation with the EU during the debt crisis.
“France is influential in Europe. That’s 18% of the European economy. It is not the situation of Tsipras’ Greece which negotiated with 2% of the European economy,” Adrien Quatennens, a senior member of Melenchon’s party, told Franceinfo radio.
The new electoral pact still has to be finally approved by the national committee of the Socialist Party during a meeting on Thursday evening.
Even if he fails to win power in the June 12-19 legislative elections, the new leftist alignment and the fact that Macron is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term in 2027 – and has no obvious successor – increase the prospect of one of the two Eurosceptic blocs gaining power in the future.
“In the long term, this is part of a process in which French politics divides into three: a pro-European center and blocs of the nationalist right and nationalist left, which raises the question of how long the center can hold,” said Mujtaba Rahman of Eurasia. Think tank said.
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