What if Emmanuel Macron named Marine Le Pen to Matignon?

          The electoral tsunami of the second round of the recent French parliamentary elections must be put into perspective. The situation certainly seems blocked in the absence of an absolute majority in the National Assembly and a serious prospect of forming a «German» grand coalition. Nevertheless, the centre of gravity of the political debate has shifted to the House, and that can be viewed in a rather positive light.

Better democracy through the voice of the representatives of the people than the so-called direct democracy of the street or even social networks. It is better to have an effective parliamentary democracy than to have a recording chamber dominated by one or more subjected parties, that is, as submissive as they are lethargic. The essential question is therefore that of efficiency for the country: how to get by? What to do?

Two legitimate powers are now faced: an executive one that is no longer in a position to implement its programme by legislative means; an Assembly in which no political party or group of parties has an absolute majority; opposing extremes, sometimes involving close or identical but irreconcilable voters; key formations open to dialogue but running the risk of a total loss of identity and disappearance in the event of a government pact.

Consultation with the parties is unlikely to yield meaningful results and provide real clarifications. René Coty and the Fourth Republic are indeed from another time and the separation of powers should keep us from such encroachments – which could be at the limit reserved for a head of government responsible to Parliament – when the country has already spoken. “France does not speak twice,” said Couve de Murville, minister to General de Gaulle.

The Republic is now tossed, in a state of confusion, close to being submerged by breaking waves. It must be « entered into port », as the great writer François Furet wrote about the advent of the Third Republic. This period in our history, which René Rémond, another great historian, described as a « sovereign republic », resulting from the imperial defeat of Sedan and which experienced three wars until the fatal collapse of 1940, was characterized in its early years by the opposition of the monarchist right and the republicans in a sort of « cohabitation » ahead of time. Despite these considerable difficulties, and while since 1789 no constitutional experiment had lasted more than twenty years, it is the ascendant taken by the Republic that assured it a longevity that has not yet been exceeded. The year 1879 marked the end of the monarchical restoration hopes with the death in battle of the imperial prince, the death without heir of the Earl of Chambord, the unexpected control by the republicans of the High Assembly and finally the resignation of Marshal Mac Mahon. But democratic “breathing” during the unrestrained alternation of ministerial offices also played an essential role through elections and universal suffrage. Yes, the sovereign republic is the supreme guarantor.

Contemporary France has retained its nostalgic monarchy and are we not talking about a “republican monarch”? This atavism, which has passed through the constitutional ages, develops paradoxically often in a permanent pre-revolutionary climate likely to cause a shift in favor of extremes. It is perhaps this analysis, coming out of the traumatic war of Algeria and its outgrowths in the metropolitan territory itself, that may have led the fathers of the Fifth Republic to design a semi-presidential and semi-parliamentary constitution. The system – cut above all to the measure of General de Gaulle and which President Mitterrand even managed to take advantage of during two periods of cohabitation – did indeed require a kind of monarch in so far as it was not protected by the separation of powers.

The current context, which takes on the aspects of an institutional crisis, does not allow us to imagine a profound reform with a view to a strict separation of powers, that is to say an enhancement of the powers of Parliament, If necessary, an amendment to the electoral law incorporating a dose of proportional representation. The time is not appropriate because the transformations would appear of convenience and nature to protect a besieged citadel, even if in the spirit it would be a question of limiting a «solitary exercise» of power so often criticized under the Fifth Republic.

A solution, at least provisional, in order to prevent the country from a disastrous stagnation, consists in seeking inspiration in the message of the sovereign republic: the whole republic, nothing but the republic. Recourse to the people, through dissolution, while the country has just expressed itself four times in a few weeks would be as inappropriate as unnecessary as it would likely worsen the crisis and reinforce extremes that could tap into the huge cohorts of abstentionists. A resignation of the President of the Republic? The previous disadvantage would be multiplied and the power of the Executive retains all the more its legitimacy as the President is guarantor of the institutions. That can really help.

It is necessary to proceed from the photograph of the National Assembly and even from the video since the presidential election. Who has the momentum and who actually won the parliamentary election? The answer is, obviously, the presidential party despite its regression from the previous legislature. But this party cannot govern because of the lack of a majority and a credible possibility to expand significantly in order to fill a significant seat deficit, and it must therefore share power with the opposition. In the face of an electoral coalition led by the far left, already in the process of decomposition, the national right emerges.

At the risk of surprising and shocking, it seems that the choice as Prime Minister of the leader of the parliamentary group constituted by the latter, can be a formula – at least transitory – to put the country back to work and in motion. Once the Head of State has drawn the consequences of the country’s political state, the party that supports him should agree and the Republican group – which will not conclude a government pact – could be limited to a nihil obstat. This would mean for a government that would not necessarily be monolithic to work on consensual themes (cf. security, regulation of migratory flows, purchasing power).

Such an operation is risky for all and can also fall under a certain Machiavellian regime. If Ms. Le Pen and her party, who clearly aspire to respectability, maintain their apparent moderation and succeed, they will reap future electoral benefits; If things go wrong, the President of the Republic guaranteeing the institutions will be able to appeal to the people by justifying its dissolution. Faced with an unprecedented choice, in a new context, doing nothing would inevitably lead to a political and social explosion.

If René Rémond wrote La République souveraine , which must be read or reread, he is also the author of a great classic: Les Droites en France. Yes, straight lines are like multiple shades of grey and, hopefully, of blue.

Published on 21 June 2022/ Entreprendre.fr (Lafont Presse)

Patrick Pascal
Former Ambassador and President of the Alstom Group in Moscow for Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.
Founder and President of Perspectives Europe-Monde.


Patrick PASCAL

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Patrick Pascal is also the author of Journal of Ukraine and Russia (VA Éditions)

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