Seen from abroad: time to pick up the pieces in France

“These moments are rare: when the country decides to turn its back on a political era and take another direction, it is a historic moment.” One might think that this sentence was written in light of the political situation in France after the second round of the legislative elections. This is not the case. In New Statesman, Andrew Marr actually describes the other major political earthquake of the week, the one that saw Labour win a landslide victory in the UK, ending fourteen years of Conservative rule.

The British journalist speaks of a deceptive triumph and warns the new winners, imagining a voter who would turn to the Labour Party: “Know that nothing is a given. Don’t brag, listen, don’t go back to Westminster politics as usual and look down on us. We don’t want that anymore. And if you don’t heed this message, you’ll regret it.”

Reading the foreign press in recent days, the warning could almost apply to France. The mirror effect is striking. The French have also chosen to turn the tables and turn their backs on the policies of the current government – ​​even if Ensemble limits the damage thanks to the very many withdrawals between the two rounds.

The extreme right was announced at the gates of power. But, against all expectations, it is the left, suddenly welded back together thanks to a hasty dissolution, which wins. This took the correspondents of the foreign press and us with surprise, let us admit it, even if we had devoted a file to this hypothesis, before the first round (“Can the left win?”, in the weekly of June 27).

“Long live France” (Your Nea, Greece), “Liberty, equality, happiness” (Page 12, Argentina), “More Mbappé, less Le Pen” (The Foglio, Italy)… The international press competed in inventiveness the day after the vote to express the relief in France and in the world at the failure of the National Rally. But, as in the United Kingdom, we must not be mistaken about the meaning of this victory, warns a large part of the foreign press.

The New Popular Front has united the left, but to do what exactly? asks Annika Joeres in The time. Same question in the South German newspaper : “Probably surprised by the lightning formation of the left-wing alliance, President Macron let this election turn into political chaos, writes Stefan Kornelius. A coalition of unlikely partners has been formed in a hurry with the aim of blocking the extreme right. Mission accomplished – what now?

That’s the whole question. The French president “wanted these early legislative elections, with a three-week lightning campaign, to be a moment of ‘clarification’ politics. The opposite happened, deplores the Financial Times. Voters have shown what they reject, but not what they support. The country must now expect months, if not years, of political uncertainty and unstable governance.”

For the National Rally, which came third and seemed certain of victory after the first round, the disappointment is immense, says Stefano Montefiori in the Corriere della Sera. The Italian journalist was at the RN HQ on the evening of the second round. He describes the shock and disappointment of the activists there:

This time again, the extreme right has failed. The glass ceiling was obvious tonight, and even seemed to be made of lead..”

However, it would be wrong to rejoice too quickly. “With three political blocs that are more or less the same size and refuse to work together, France seems ungovernable, further explains the Financial Times. Throughout the turbulence that is coming, Marine Le Pen and her number two, Jordan Bardella, will present themselves as the only ones capable of proposing order and stability. Their defeat on Sunday could then seem only a temporary setback.”

The New Popular Front has been warned. Once again, the Republican front has held. But a long sequence of uncertainties is looming, a “leap into the unknown”, according to the foreign press. More than ever, we will have to try to meet the expectations of the French to avoid a new worst-case scenario in 2027. Or even before.

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