Democrat Emmanuel Macron’s presidential campaign this year proved how easy it is to create populist, Europhile regimes. His clear-cut majority in France’s legislative elections Tuesday proves how easy it is to breed reactionaries. In one of the warmest political nights of the year, his republican party captured a stunning 289 seats in the National Assembly, making it the largest number for any parliamentary group since 1946.
Instead of fearing the spark, Macron’s many critics began aping it.
Macron’s European Commission — soggy with defeat, and without a majority in the commission — promised more pro-European policies, insisting it will not be the party of European disintegration, as Macron has said repeatedly. The party will make even more democratic reforms than the outgoing Democratic Party, like eliminating the registration barriers for new parties and legalizing referendums.
In Europe, the rise of these populist, Euroskeptic and progressive reactions seems to be highly related to the fall of 2016.
So the Left is again left without a party that speaks to the profound tensions inside the European body, as its victory in France today. But many in the party are fleeing for the European Right.
In the past eight years, I have written many articles on the Left leaving the European Union and the rise of the right in France. I’m sure I am not alone in my belief. But now it’s happening. Many like Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the far-left candidate and the last member of the French Socialist Party to give Macron a serious challenge in the elections, are looking to reinvent themselves as euroskeptic.
Mélenchon’s best-known recent speech (to campaign supporters) linked a defeat of Macron in presidential elections to a defeat of European unity. “Democracy can’t survive if [Europe] is defeated,” he said. It seems his speech does not reflect the fact that he was a Member of Parliament during the heyday of Franco-German unification.
His friend from Europe-splintering movements, Marine Le Pen, saw her own party, Front National, nearly wipe out and headed by her niece Marion Marechal-Le Pen, won 20.6 percent of the vote, but its collapse reflects the growth of other parties.
Marechal-Le Pen has promised to become the foreign minister. A prime minister, François Fillon, who was defeated, demanded new elections.
All these reactions show how similar the crises of Europhilia are to the crisis of European unity itself. The political power is slowly leaving the continent in Europe, and the people, especially on the European Right, think they can now take over.
Now it’s time to see these reactionary parties in action. They did not propose balanced budgets, or how to fund social programs when they took over countries with the debt. What they did are movements, like the spread of immigration, war and radical Islam. They threatened citizens in countries where their governments were not listening to them.
I remain convinced that Macron’s victory in France will be short-lived. His indecisiveness over immigration policy and the promise to crack down on political corruption make him easy prey to those on the Right who now believe they can re-create democracy in Europe.
Eric Flohr is an American journalist based in France and a regular contributor to the Fox News Opinion network.