Presidential Election Result coda

At 17:30 yesterday the President of the Conseil constitutionnel (ex-Foreign Minister Fabius) announced the Official Result (once they’d got rid of 0.05% of votes previously counted that didn’t cut the mustard): it’s here. With that essential element in place, we can now move on to Macron’s Investiture

A handful of last comments on that Election result.

They ‘loved’ Macron in Paris. Or, at least, they all went out to vote for him (sort of – in other words, excluding the 21.5% of Parisians who abstained). Across Paris, Macron averaged 89.68%: he actually got over 92%* in 5 of the 20 arrondissements.

Adding up all France’s abstentions and spoilt ballots, altogether SIXTEEN MILLION VOTERS decided they wouldn’t/couldn’t vote either Macron or Le Pen. The abstention level of 25.4% was the highest for any Presidential Election of the 5th Republic – except for the bizarre 1969 Election when 2 candidates of the right ended up in Round 2, over 31% abstained, and Pompidou got elected. In that same 1969 Election, spoilt ballots amounted to a ‘mere’ 6.4% (the previous highest level), last Sunday they totalled a record-breaking 11.5%.

This huge number of abstentions and spoilt ballots has led many on the hard left to say that Macron (almost) lacks legitimacy because he ‘only’ persuaded 43.6% of the electorate to vote for him. This simplistic argument forgets that – apart from when Chirac beat Le Pen in 2002 – no French President for 50 years has won an overall majority.

Different countries? Different systems.

In the UK, when the Government loses an election, the Party Leader who has a majority of MPs in the House of Commons ousts (in all possible senses) the losing Prime Minister the day immediately following the General Election.

The only ‘ceremonial’ is a highly choreographed to-ing and fro-ing to ‘See The Sovereign at Buckingham Palace’ (first, Goodbye to the Old; second, Hello to the New) – nowadays filmed from helicopters as a handful of cars progress about central London.

Day 1 of the Nouveau Régime includes taking the losing Premier’s stuff out of the back of the Prime Minister’s residence, whilst the new PM makes a memorable minispeech at the front. [NB. Quoting St Francis of Assisi is only obligatory for the truly insincere.]

United States Presidential transition lasts between Election Day (the first Tuesday after November 1) and January 20: during which period the LameDuckness of the Presidency becomes ever more evident, until there’s nothing to be done but pardon a few folk.

Here in France, Investiture Day is agreed between the incoming and outgoing Presidents. It’s anywhere between 7 – 14 days after the 2nd Round run-off, with the sole proviso that it must occur before the predecessor’s 5 year term of office expires. Macron’s Investiture will be on 14 May – hours before President Hollande’s 5 years expire at midnight.

In the meantime, this week Macron is deciding who he will nominate to be his Prime Minister shortly after he becomes President. It is the PM who (theoretically) nominates the Ministers, and gets Presidential approval therefor (15 Ministers in all, said Macron, less than usual). But just maybe Macron will have worked out (possibly with his PM?) the identities of those Ministers well in advance?

The Socialist Government resigned yesterday, as required. For now the public servants are fully in charge – and the President is still in office.

What sort of President might Macron aspire to be?

He certainly won’t be the ‘normal’ President that Hollande said he aspired to be following Sarkozy’s hyper-activity.

Macron has said he will be a President who ‘presides’, while allowing his Prime Minister and Ministers to govern. He uses the word jupitérien (as in Mount Olympus) to describe his role. He started in that vein on Election Night with his Long Slow Walk Crossing The Louvre Courtyard, accompanied by the Euro-‘Hymn to Joy’ on an endless loop:

Who might be Premier Ministre?

Any one of three groups of politicos might fit the Prime Ministerial bill for Macron [usually it’s an MP (or Senator) from the President’s Party, but … in the absence of any En Marche MPs whatsoever] it could well be someone from:

  • the Républicain Party – to increase anger/confusion/mayhem on the right
  • his own En Marche party – this week re-named La République en marche to provide semantic help for about-to-be-fellow-travelling Socialist/Républicain MPs who’ve decided to abandon their respective sinking ships, so as to sail under possibly calmer Macronite flags towards June’s Parliamentary Elections
  • the Socialist Party, who’s respected on the right, eg Defence Minister Le Drian
  • … while a 4th group would be someone from civil society

Tour after tour after tour

Rounds (tours) One and Two of the Presidential Election gave us about-to-be-President Macron. Typically, following the President’s Election, the nation does what it’s supposed to do in the subsequent Legislative Elections (on successive Sundays for each of 2 tours) and gives the President’s Party a working majority in the Chamber of Deputies (lower house of Parliament).

[Those 2 Rounds of Legislative Elections are sometimes elided into one, and called the troisième tour. And finally. To cap it all there may be a further, still more conflictual tour social, when ranks of organised (and often less-than-organised) labour actively display, on the streets, their discontent at the new Government’s plans. Just to mention that on the day after Macron’s election there were already a couple of thousand people who spent their public holiday protesting his election and calling for guerre sociale.]

But a working majority does not always come to the President. On 3 occasions under the 5th Republic, a President of one party (twice Mitterand, once Chirac) has been forced to appoint a Prime Minister from the Opposition because the President’s party did not have a majority of Deputies, thus forcing opposed President and Prime Minister to co-exist. This is known locally as cohabitation.

This June, we could well find cohabitation imposed upon Macron from the get-go. An Ipsos poll (on the day of Round 2 voting) found that 61% did not want Macron to have an absolute majority of Deputies. Round 1 showed the nation rather neatly divided into 4 (or, perhaps, 4 and a bit? ‘Cos the Socialists will certainly pick up a handful of seats). But an absolute En Marche majority seems very difficult to imagine.

Who will be MPs after the Parliamentary Elections?

Serious hard ball is being played in several areas of the political pitch. And it’s not just because time’s moving on: all candidates must be nominated between 15 – 19 May.

A reminder on the Rules which apply to the Legislative Elections. The 2 candidates with the most votes in each constituency on 11 June automatically qualify for the 2nd Round on 18 June, as also does any candidate who gets more than 12.5% of the total voters on the Electoral Register. With a likely minimum abstention of say one-third, a candidate probably needs to get nearly 20% of the votes cast to go through to Round 2.

  • 450 Macronite candidates should be revealed today (to add to 14 already announced) – still, supposedly, with not more than half existing MPs, plus a continuing emphasis on ensuring women fight winnable seats … and no dodgy folk. One question is whether former Socialist Prime Minister Valls – who announced yesterday he wanted to sail under the Macron Flag – had done enough to get himself out of the Socialists and into the Macronists.
  • Mélenchon’s party were hard with the Communists, complaining about their use of Mélenchon’s picture on election material and threatening court action – even comparing the CP’s action to that of the Front National … and all-out war between the CP and La France Insoumise seems certain; Mélenchon – who is probably candidate for Deputy – has, seemingly, bizarrely chosen a Marseilles Socialist seat to fight; he’s calling on the French not to give ‘total power to Macron’
  • the Républicains have changed some of Fillon’s programme, with some of the more ‘radical’ parts junked: 500,000 public servants will be got rid of over 7 not 5 years; VAT won’t go up 2% but income tax will go down
  • the more centrist Républicains (many followers of Juppé) say that they require the Premiership if they are to support Macron en masse – but today the Républicain boss says none (so far) of their Deputies has taken The Macron Shilling
  • In Round 2, Le Pen led in 45 constituencies (Parliamentary circonscriptions) and had a score of between 45-50% in 67 other constituencies: this seems to bode dangerously well for the Front National.

What will Macron try to do first?

Macron has long said that he intended to legislate his changes on politics/morality – no accumulation of elective offices/no employment of relatives or friends – before the new Chamber of Deputies was even elected.

It’s obviously good politics for Macron to show he’s not only keeping his campaign pledges but doing so, importantly, with the same timescale he promised. But while there will surely be no objectors to his proceeding by Executive Diktat on such a non-controversial issue, other rules will certainly apply to amendments to the Labour Laws.

Front National 

The Evil Niece, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen (Like Grand-father Like Grand-daughter – she’s made of serious hard stuff: just right for The Old Nazi Apologist) has detonated something of a bombshell by deciding to spend more time with her daughter, get a job … and return re-invigorated to lead France to a Nationalist Nirvana. She announced she would not stand again as a Deputy (she’s the sole FN Deputy, elected aged 22, the other’s a fellow-travelling Le Pen supporter) and was resigning her Regional Council seat. A puzzle that one: she was supposed to be the one who would lead the Catholic Nationalists against the National(ist) Socialists in The Battle To End All Battles. ‘I consider this desertion’ thundered Ultra-Right Grandfather.zes

The Ultra-Extreme-Right Marion, other than calling for a ‘reflection’ said ‘There’s obviously some disappointment, it would be dishonest to say anything else … There must be some lessons to learn, some positive ones, but also some negative ones’. While anonymous Marion(istes) said to Le Monde: ‘We forgot certain themes: the family, identity, security. And Marine Le Pen failed what should have been her big moment, the debate.’ And ‘the strategic errors, the lack of organisation, the paranoia, the inability to get the right people around her … It’s a personal defeat for her. She must step down.’

But what happened in That Debate? There’s a sort of Conspiracy Theory around. One Frontiste wrote online: ‘Marine performed really well throughout the campaign – especially on TF1 just before the debate. That’s why I question her performance. I’ve been in the FN since 1985 and I had the impression of seeing her father who never wanted power and who always, deliberately, did something wrong when the end approached’.

Could they really have meant this?

Yesterday, a group of 200 Socialist worthies launched a new movement: where else but via an article in Le Monde).

They’ve gathered such much-Left-loved luminaries as the Mayor of Paris (Anne Hidalgo), Mayor of Lille (Martine Aubry) and ex-Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira and called it Dès demain (‘Starting tomorrow’). It’s said to be a new pro-European democratic humanist [?] ecological and social movement.

They have a Facebook page (of course) but have perhaps strangely said that ‘There is a future to construct together so that tomorrow belongs to us’.

Have none of these clever folk ever seen an earlier rendering of the latter phrase?


*[PS on overwhelming electoral majorities: Did you see the results of February’s brilliant Presidential Election in Turkmenistan? A seriously active turnout of 97.3% enabled sitting President Berdimuhamedow (appropriately enough, he was the candidate of the soi-disant ‘Democratic Party’) to get re-elected. He obtained a rather impressive 97.69% of the votes cast … while the other EIGHT candidates polled the balance of 2.72%. Though one of the 8 also-rans did (or was allowed to?) pick up 1.02% of the vote, so perhaps the President needs to tread carefully – rivals are everywhere.]


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