COUNTERPOINT – Emmanuel Macron's ambition is to lead a major pro-European campaign, by weakening the opposition a little more.
Return to the initial scenario. For twenty years, from 1979 to 1999, French MEPs were elected on national lists. In 2003, taking up a proposal from the Gaullist Michel Barnier and the socialist Pierre Moscovici, the Raffarin government passed a territorial division, creating eight large regions.
The stated reason was noble: to bring the elected representatives closer to the citizens and to interest the French more in Europe. If that was the objective, the fiasco was total. After three elections according to this division, who knows their MEP? Who could believe it when Dunkirk finds itself in the same constituency as Mont-Saint-Michel, when Brest has the same representatives as Angoulême, when Pau votes with Mende, Chartres with Aurillac... and Nouméa with Fort-de- France! And without having provoked it, the supposed rapprochement between voters and elected officials coincided with their distance from the polls. Between 39,3% and 53,2% from 1979 to 1999, abstention reached 59,4% in 2009 and 57,26% in 2014.
But returning to a national constituency is not only taking note of the failure of the regionalization of the ballot. Nor even align with the practice of 22 of the 28 countries of the Union – the other five countries being divided into constituencies being the United Kingdom, Italy, Ireland, Poland and Belgium. Choosing a voting system always means making a political decision. One of the architects of the 2003 reform confides it bluntly: “We had abolished the national lists to piss off Bayrou and Le Pen.” These two calculations are no longer relevant for the 2017 executive.
Emmanuel Macron's ambition is to lead a major pro-European campaign. In other words, to nationalize the ballot. And at national stake, national lists. For La République en Marche, the electoral interest is obvious. Even if his victory in the legislative elections gives him wide coverage of the territory, his youth deprives him of sufficient anchorage for local campaigns, while the Macron "brand" is the best poster for a national campaign.
Above all, the Head of State identifies with a resolutely pro-European and even federal line, as he developed it in his speech of September 26 at the Sorbonne. He who claims to have broken the left-right divide wants to establish a new divide between “openness” and “retreat” of which the European question would be the best illustration. Among the electoral experts of the executive, we assume that we want to make the next European elections a frontal clash between “pro and anti-Europeans”. A clash between two sharp speeches, one embodied by the President of the Republic and the other carried jointly and symmetrically by Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
This would have the effect – or in any case the objective – of obscuring the campaign of the Republicans and the PS, whose positions are both more nuanced and more diverse within them on Europe. A way to continue the relegation of the two major parties that alternated in power until his election.
And Macron dreams of going all the way with logic. The list of the presidential majority will seek to embark the most fervent pro-Europeans of each camp. Beyond LREM and the MoDem therefore. By drawing from the UDI, from the Republicans, the radicals, the ecologists, the socialists...
After Act I, which took place the day after the presidential election, Emmanuel Macron's objective is thus to bring about Act II of political refoundation. By widening its majority a little more. By weakening the opposition a little more.
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Source: © Le Figaro Premium – Guillaume Tabard: “From national lists to Europeans or act II of political recomposition”