Sunday is the final round of the four-round French election–two rounds for president, two for National Assembly. Thus the legislative runoffs are now upon us. Although we have the unusual case of a honeymoon election in which the leader of an opposition alliance is proclaiming he is running for prime minister, probably the only real question in the results is whether the just-reelected President Macron gets a assembly majority or not. (See earlier planting for discussion of such points.)
In advance of the runoffs, I been poking around in the statements (profession de foi) that candidates make available. It’s a great resource for anyone wanting study patterns in the way the candidates and parties/alliances communicate. I am not about to look at this systematically, but I note a few stark differences in presentation. (Most of the following is based on a comment by me at the earlier post, but with some elaboration.)
Every candidate for an assembly seat runs with a substitute, who would replace the the originally elected member were the latter to vacate the seat for any reason (including becoming a cabinet minister). Thus, in effect, France has two-person (closed) lists for each single-seat district. The replacement is typically, although not always, featured on the statement (and, from photos I have seen, in campaign signs). But there is considerable variation in how they are presented.
Also, as typifies highly presidentialized parties (or, given that this includes major opposition parties, too, leader-ized?) as France has, almost every candidate is featured next to the presidential candidate in whose alliance the assembly candidate was running.
For example, in Bouches-du-Rhône no. 4, the candidate from Nupes features the principal and the substitute prominently, side by side. The national leader, in this case “candidate for premier” Mélenchon, is shown towards the bottom of the first page. This is the reverse of what seems to be the norm for candidates of Ensemble or RN, where the candidate is pictured (photo-shopped, more to the point) next to the leader, with the substitute in a smaller photo on a later page.
For instance, see the Ensemble candidate in the same district.
See this one for a candidate of RN (Bouches-du-Rhône no. 1). Unlike most that I have seen for candidates in other parties, this does not talk about the candidate or the district at all. It just tells what the RN party program is. It also does not mention the substitute. Instead, a picture of the main candidate with Le Pen and also (strangely) a picture of the party president, Jordan Barella. The main message comes through clearly in all caps at the top: “La seule opposition à Macron” (the only opposition to Macron).
Here is another RN candidate statement that is marginally less party-centric than that one. In Hérault no. 7, it is a little more specific to the local context, not in the sense of any mention of district issues, but in calling out the “extreme left” opponent in the district who must be stopped. The Nupes candidate in the same district has a statement that looks like the other Nupes one I mentioned before (and with minor variation, all those from Nupes that I have seen). It has the substitute depicted side-by-side with the principle and featured more prominently than the national leader, while still making room for a photo of Mélenchon at the bottom of the first page. It also has at the very top, “Face au RN, pas d’abstention”–a call not to abstain, given the contest is against the RN. Otherwise, it is mostly oriented around the national program of the alliance.
In general, the Ensemble statements seem to say the most about the candidates themselves, with information on their career on the second page, often along with some words about the district’s needs. Maybe this is to be expected for the alliance that has already won the presidency, and now wants to show how the majority Macron is seeking would be in tune with local voters’ needs. The other two main forces, RN and Nupes, on the other hand, need to emphasize how they seek to counter the president’s national policy priorities. The candidates in Nupes and RN most certainly are not cultivating a personal vote or a local vote on their statements–or rather on the subset of statements I saw.
I actually did find one from Ensemble that did not show a photo of Macron at all, although it does say “presidential majority” at the bottom of the front page. Instead, it shows the principal candidate and the substitute standing side-by-side in a park. This district is one of the three-way runoffs, Dordogne no. 3 (first round: NUPES 24%, Ensemble 23%, RN 22%), and the second page of the statement has a large block of text denouncing the “extremes” represented by the other two runoff candidates’ national programs. It still saved plenty of locally targeted information about priorities.
We can probably draw some conclusions from these patterns–if they are indeed patterns–about the priorities of the parties and alliances, in terms of local vs. national emphasis, as well as how important the leader is to the vote-seeking strategy. I looked at dozens, and while I can’t claim they were representative of the wider set of districts, it seems they just might be.
At this stage it looks like Ensemble will be the largest coalition, but well short of a majority with 234 seats. NUPES will have 141, RN 90 (well above where the polls had them), and LR will have 75. This is quite an unusual situation for France under the Fifth Republic. Virtually all governments have been either majority coalitions or, in the case of Mitterrand 1988, very narrow minorities. While it seems certain that the PM will come from Ensemble given how unlikely cooperation between the other parties would be, they will no doubt have an extremely difficult time passing any legislation, even with the considerable agenda-setting powers that the French Constitution gives them. Ensemble’s most likely ally would seem to be LR, although 50 members of the left group are from either the Socialists or Greens and might be more likely to support government legislation than the Communists or FI.
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I have the two successive Rocard governments appointed by Mitterrand after his reelection in 1988 as minority cabinets. Is that wrong?
No, that’s right, they were the “very narrow minorities”.
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I am waiting for clarification on the 142 seats of Nupes. Are they 72 LFI, 26 PS, 23 EELV, 12 PC, 4 Génération.s, and 5 unknown? The overseas results may be confusing the count.
But I am clear on the 13 Diverse Left: 7 on the continent, 6 overseas. All 7 are former Socialists, but one is complex: Charente-Maritime 1st is Incumbent Olivier Falorni, a former Socialist who defeated Segolene Royal in 2012, was re-elected in 2017 as DVG with no Socialist candidate, and re-elected this week over 2nd-place Nupes. In Meurthe-et- Moselle 5th is Dominique Potier (Incumbent Socialist), who refused the endorsement of Nupes, but there was no Nupes candidate. In two districts the dissident went head-to-head with Nupes and won: Ariège 2nd, Laurent Panifous, dissident PS socialist loyal to Carole Delga, and Pyrenees-Atlantique 3rd, incumbent David Habib dissident PS. In the other 3, Nupes was eliminated in the first round: Nord 3: Benjamin Saint-Huile, dissident PS; Pas-de-Calais 8th, Bertrand Petit, dissident PS who was only 33 votes behind the 2nd place in 2017; and In Gers 2nd, David Taupiac, Dissident PS.
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That was fast. “Valérie Rabault, leader of the Socialists in the National Assembly during the previous legislature, says tomorrow afternoon the Socialist deputies will meet, numbering 34 to 35 according to her. “I want to bring together the elected officials in the Nupes agreement and the elected officials outside the Nupes agreement. The meeting aims to see if a center of gravity is possible.” An internal vote is scheduled for Thursday.
Le Figaro pronounces: “Nothing will be done. Neither the belated calls for a “republican start” launched by the President of the Republic, nor his Ukrainian escapade sewn with white thread. And let’s not talk about those strange tirades of Elisabeth Borne against the “extreme right”, when the extreme left was at the gates! This time, the “useful vote” strategy did not work. The Macronist strategists had bet that the rejection of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and his delusional political project would be stronger than anything; big mistake! An inverted mirror of the presidential election, this second round of the legislative elections looks furiously like an anti-Macron referendum. He had made a point of drying up the extremes; they have never been so powerful: the Nupes, of course, but also the RN, whose historic breakthrough is the other surprise . As for the right, although in decline, it manages to limit the breakage better than it could hope for.”
Numbers: The National Assembly was half renewed. Of 577 outgoing, 127 had not run again, 68 were eliminated in the first round, 102 were beaten this Sunday in the second round, and 275 were re-elected (5 unaccounted for), and 282 were newly elected. “Among the first officials to have agreed to go successively to the Élysée are Christian Jacob (LR), Olivier Faure (PS), Fabien Roussel (PCF) and Julien Bayou (EELV) who will be received on Wednesday at 9:00 a.m.”
“These 131 Nupes deputies are not from the same party: 72 are from France insoumise (LFI), 26 from the Socialist Party (PS), 23 from Europe Ecologie-Les Verts (EELV), 12 from the Communist Party (PCF) and 4 of Generation.s.” Hmm, that’s 137.
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Wilf, sorry for having missed the above comment. It had been held in the queue, probably because the automatic comment moderation thinks lots of links might be spam.
Obviously, I appreciate the links! I just wish I’d seen and cleared this earlier.
That count gives 137 because the 4 Géneration.s MPs are already included within the 23 EELV/Ecologist Pole MPs (16 EELV, 4 G.s, 2 from Géneration Écologie and 1 from Les Noveaux Démocrates). The PS quota within the 131 elected NUPES (according French Interior Ministry data) is 24, the 2 extra seats are incumbents Hervé Saulignac from Ardeche and Joel Aviragnet from Haute-Garonne who the Interior Ministry labelled as “divers gauche” because their endorsement with the NUPES was not clear at the moment the Ministry included the NUPES nuance.
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