It is about the future of France and the challenges are historic. At least that’s the message President Emmanuel Macron proclaimed before the final round of the general election, which began this Sunday, and is asking voters to vote for a solid majority in his centre-camp. The polling stations opened at 8 a.m. Around 48.9 million registered voters can cast their vote. The 577 seats in the National Assembly are voted on.
By noon, almost every fifth eligible voter had already cast their vote. At 12 p.m. the turnout was almost 19 percent, as the Interior Ministry in Paris announced on Sunday. That was a good 0.5 percent more than at the same time in the first round of voting a week ago.
After the first round, it did not seem certain that the ballot would end, as usual, with an absolute majority for the presidential camp. The freshly re-elected Macron warns of chaos and blockades if there is only enough for a relative majority in parliament and the new left-wing alliance with opponent Jean-Luc Mélenchon gains power.
While the President embarks on global visions and plans for the future, left-wing populist Mélenchon starts with the here and now of the many crisis-ridden people in France. The price of gas, rising food costs, the minimum wage, the retirement age, student budgets – he makes clear and simple promises about everything, roughly translated according to the motto, vote for me, then you and your wallet will be better off.
Chaos, counters Mélenchon, is caused by the president himself. The 70-year-old presents himself as a people’s tribune and as a counterpart to the president, whom critics consider an arrogant elite politician with a lack of interest in the real needs of the population.
Even in the presidential elections, in which Mélenchon was eliminated in third place, he had many opponents and those disappointed by Macron behind him. Then, surprisingly and in record time, he united the fragmented left into a new left-wing alliance and shouted: “Elect me prime minister.” A coup and propaganda coup that catapulted the left-wing alliance to practically the same percentage as the Macron camp in the first ballot.
Despite this attack from the left, there is little doubt that the Liberal, who was re-elected for a second term at the end of April, can at least continue to govern with a relative majority. But then Macron and his government would be forced to seek support from other camps. Such policies of compromise and coalitions are less common in French politics than in Germany. The last time there was a government with a relative majority was François Mitterrand (1988-1991).