Macron and the “third round”

25 April, 2022

Macron celebrated yesterday his re-election in the second round of the 2022 presidential election.
Macron celebrated yesterday his re-election in the second round of the 2022 presidential election.

Macron has been re-elected president with a wide margin. But there is no triumph in his victory. The sword of Damocles of a “third round”, not only electorally but above all of struggles and strikes tarnishes the Republican ceremonial.

Table of Contents

A victory without a triumph

Macron yesterday celebrated his re-election in the second round of the 2022 presidential runoff election
Macron was celebrating yesterday his re-election in the second round of the 2022 presidential 2022 runoff.

The propaganda apparatus gave it all. Ranging from Le Monde, which called in its editorial to vote for Macron to “prevent the country from falling apart“, to the latest Jewish or Muslim parish bulletin which timely warned that “Le Pen could ban kosher and halal“, not a single piece of the opinion industry was left without contributing to the electoral mobilization.

The result, apparently, was not bad for the ruling class: the abstention of 28.01%, the highest in a presidential election in half a century, is however far from the massive electoral demobilization of last year’s regional elections.

And yet, only the tweets of foreign leaders showed any joy yesterday. In France, neither media coverage nor celebrations overflowed with enthusiasm last night. Le Monde, again, spoke of “an evening of victory without triumph, marked by the historic high score of the far right and the fear of a third political and social round“.

The Anglophone press, which observed these elections with a certain apprehension, had already placed its finger on the sore point: the political apparatus of the French bourgeoisie is definitively in tatters. The petty-bourgeois revolt has the electoral majority and only the division between the ultra-nationalists of Le Pen and “insubmissives” of Mélenchon, makes it possible to maintain an amorphous institutional party in the Elysée around Macron.

Moreover, Macron’s references to the “anger vote” in his victory speech point to something particularly worrying for the powers-that-be: even if the results of the first round implied that the myth of the “unity of the left” might be rekindled, the fact that Le Pen surpassed the threshold of 40% of the vote means that she dragged along a relevant percentage of both Mélenchon’s and Pécresse’s voters. In other words, the “republican union” against the far right is no longer working… even among left-wing voters. The “anger” can outweigh the anti-fascist myth of the lesser evil.

The electoral “third round”

Mélenchon proclaims 'the beginning of the third round' on election night after coming third in the first round of the 2022 presidential election
Mélenchon proclaims “the beginning of the third round” on election night after coming third in the first round of the 2022 presidential election

Hence the fear, permanent throughout the final stretch of the campaign, of the “third round“. This third round would have two dimensions: in the first, the legislative elections. The rise of Mélenchon’s supporters, who would unite the left and the consolidation of a far-right pole around Le Pen, could produce a Parliament without the usual “presidential majority” and therefore unmanageable for a president who is not very prone to generate consensus.

If he loses the legislative elections to the left wing of the petty-bourgeois electoral revolt, Macron would find it much harder to pass without problems his strategy of “reforms”.

In fact, he would even find it difficult to choose a prime minister to suit him. So far the names being bandied about in the Elysée’s entourage range from the governor of the ECB, Christine Lagarde to the former labor minister Élisabeth Borne, that is to say, the range of policies that Macron is preparing ranges from the frontal attack on labor and living conditions, to the co-organized attack with the unions dressed up as “exchange” and “social agreement”.

In this framework, the triumph in the legislative elections of the “insubmissives” would mean having Mélenchon claiming the office and putting sticks in Macron’s wheel until he obtains it. Which would not be a comfortable option either, because if he finally appointed him it would mean having a government much less willing to sacrifice its own “popularity” for the “greater good” of executing the “vision” of the corporate bourgeoisie for national capital. A vision that, obviously, the petty bourgeoisie – insubmissive or Lepenian – does not share.

The social “third round”

Demonstration in Paris against the pension reform in February 2020
Demonstration in Paris against the pension reform in February 2020.

But let’s not fool ourselves: for the future Macron government, with its sights set on pension and labor law reform, even with confessed temptations to extend the working day, the concerns come from the “social third round”.

The fear of an unmanageable parliament is the expression of the fact that, in the face of a wave of strikes and workers’ struggles, they can expect little effective political support from an angry, swollen and revolted petty bourgeoisie, even if the latter’s “alternatives” are ineffective from every point of view.

Basically, they wonder to what extent the left wing and trade union levee will be able to function when “anger” seems to be able to break basic myths such as the republican union against the far right.

We wonder too. With hope.

Read also: 4 key points of the 2022 Presidential election, 12/4/2022

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