A guide to the French Parliamentary elections

 

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(Image courtesy of bassussarry.fr)

 

 

The French parliamentary election will take place on Sundays June 11 and 18, a few weeks away from the presidential election that flung France’s formerly unknown political prodigy fighting doublespeak, Emmanuel Macron, on the political scene.  Similarly to the United States, the key movement for the French executive power’s party “La République en Marche” (previously “En Marche!”) – or other concurring parties – is to win as many ideological allies in Parliament as possible. For this reason, this legislative election is often referred as “the third round.”

577 deputies will be elected in the 557 implicitly delimited districts (the “circonscriptions”). The dividing up of those districts is based on population, one district having 120,000 inhabitants.

Candidates must be French citizens and at least 18 of age. However, they are not required to live in the district they will represent, for the national, not local, status of their position; although the tradition wants the deputy to have a permanent residence in their district, “parachuting” is accepted. Political experience is also optional.

The electoral mechanism is identical to the presidential elections’: it is an uninominal and traditional 50%-plus-one-vote system. A second round is scheduled if no candidate is elected by a majority during the first one. Eligibility for the second round means to have had at least 12,5% of the votes.

According to the French newspaper Le Monde, there would be approximately 14 candidates per district or a total of 7882 candidates. Most of them are already politically active and known actors of the political scene, like Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the extreme-left of “La France Insoumise” who unsuccessfully ran for president this year and is now a parliamentary candidate in France’s second biggest city, Marseille.

A political party has to win 289 seats for legislative control, as this number represents the absolute majority at the National Assembly.

So far, the brand new presidential party seems to win by a landslide, regardless of its candidates’ political experience. Amongst the important political personalities of the different shades of the political spectrum running for parliamentary seats are Jean-Luc Mélenchon in Marseille, former President Hollande’s Minister of Housing and Territorial Equality Cécile Duflot and Minister of Education and Research Najat Vallaud-Belkacem (first woman to be appointed to this ministry) in the Parisian districts, Marine Le Pen in one of the Northen districts of Nord-Pas-de-Calais.

Jean-Paul Bret, the Socialist mayor of the city of Villeurbanne, told French radio broadcast France Info that “even if En Marche! announced a potato sack as one of their candidates, they would have a high chance to win.” The Socialist Party, amongst other ones, is indeed doomed after Hollande’s unpopular term and catastrophic presidential election results.

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Polls by L’Internaute.com (June 10) 

According to today’s polls by L’Internaute.com’s polling institute, “La République en Marche” would score 30%, the right party “Les Républicains” 23%, and the National Front 18% (meaning they have significantly lost popularity since the presidential elections). It is a vote for legitimacy and approval for the presidential party.
“France Insoumise” and the Socialist party would respectively score 11% and 9% of the votes.

France: More surprises in primary elections process lead to uncertainty on presidential race this May

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Benoît Hamon (left) Manuel Valls (right) – France Soir

 

France’s upcoming presidential election in May is sure to be full of surprises. The Right Party presidential primaries held in December ousted former President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chirac’s former Minister Alain Juppé from the race and nominated former Prime Minister under Sarkozy, François Fillon, a less charismatic but quieter figure.

The second round of the Socialist Party presidential primaries will be held this Sunday, with two completely different profiles competing: former Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Yvelines’ deputy Benoît Hamon. Under Hollande’s presidency, Mr. Valls had drifted from the socialist ideology to a more conservative one, especially with the El-Khomri law. On the contrary, Mr. Hamon advocates for more left-oriented policies and radical change. The French press mentions a “left with two faces.”

No second chances?

Recent polls are not in Mr. Valls’ favor, owing to his unpopularity as Prime Minister. He also has to face contradictions during debates: to defend what he stood for over the past four years whilst also promising change. Unfortunately, many fear a continuity of policies if Mr. Valls gets elected. The candidate claims the El-Khomri law was an ultimatum for him and promises to abrogate the 49-3 article that validates it, since they do not represent “our society of participation,” he told France 2‘s news channel.  Addressing the nation’s current preoccupations with Islamophobia, Mr. Valls contends all religions are compatible with republican values; and “although the Republic protects and helps all victims of intolerance, it belongs to them to defend themselves against obscurantism,” he told L’émission politique in January. He also intends to open up a dialogue on Islam and “free French Islam from outside influences.”

Hamon: from third man to rising star of the polls

After the disappointing mandate of François Hollande, the surge of terrorist attacks, and the alarming rise of unemployment, France needs to dream a better future. There is no desire to recycle politicians, and Mr. Hamon appears to provide enough dream material for the French to win the primaries this Sunday. Polls estimate Hamon to lead the race by 4%.

The main line of his program is the cancellation of the El-Khomri law, which facilitates the ability of firms to fire employees when faced with competition. Mr. Hamon also hopes to see a France move toward utilizing renewable energies by 2050, and away from nuclear use and schist gas. He advocates for the legalized use of cannabis – a concern rarely addressed in national debates – which could reduce underground trafficking and other related troubles within concerned communities.

Results from this primary will likely determine the candidate that will measure himself against the two other main running parties, Le Pen’s far-right and Fillon’s right. This panel of candidates was unexpected to make it so far, leading to many questions and uncertainties for the May election.

The second most popular competing parties are Emmanuel Macron’s independent party (neither left nor right), Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s far-left, and Yannick Jadot’s green party.

Edit, 01/29/2017: Benoît Hamon wins with 58,88% of the votes against 41,12% for Manuel Valls

Article by Alice Ferré, CAS’19

Spotted: France’s far-right leader visits Trump Tower

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Marine Le Pen at the Trump Bar – by Sam Levine

On Thursday, Marine Le Pen, French National Front (NF) leader, was spotted at the Trump Tower, causing rumors to swirl of a possible meeting with Mr. Trump, which a plausible supposition owing to ideological similarities between the two parties.

However, Press Secretary Sean Spicer denied the existence of any scheduled meetings with the French politician. He added that the Trump bar, where Le Pen was seen having coffee, is a public space and thus accessible to everyone.

Marine Le Pen, nevertheless, met with Trump’s longtime friend and neighbor, George Lombardi – a man with many connections with the European far-right elite, who introduces himself as a political analyst. He formerly represented the Italian Northern League, is now close to the Tea Party and leads the U.S. branch of the French National Front. Mr. Lombardi also lives three stories below Trump.

Not only Trump’s neighbor, Lombardi is also his auto-proclaimed, non-official advisor and fervent supporter; an interesting middle-man and asset for Le Pen, who seems to admire and envy the success of the populist vote in the U.S.

Trump’s victory seems to be a sign of hope for European anti-establishment,  as Le Pen tweeted in celebration for Trump in November, indicating the NF’s confidence of the elections’ outcome.

Lombardi announced he will organize a private party for Mrs. Le Pen with “entrepreneurs, businessmen, and a couple of people from the United Nations.” All are French and supporters of Le Pen’s convictions.

Lombardi described Le Pen’s populist message as similar to Trump’s by its “resonance with the working class, left or right, fed up with the elitist, globalist politicians that are not doing anything for their own people.” He then added: “they are looking for someone, a new voice.”

After some networking in New York, Mrs. Le Pen will fly back to Lyon, France, where she will officially launch her presidential campaign, on February 4th. According to the latest opinion polls, she remains the favorite candidate.

Article by Alice Ferré, CAS’19