As political turmoil grips France, Macron’s latest political maneuver may have inadvertently set the stage for a seismic shift in the nation’s leadership.

It was the historian and thoughtful biographer of many Third, Fourth, and Fifth Republic politicians, Maxime Tandonnet, who put it best: “I don’t believe the theory where Emmanuel Macron gifts the PM job to the National Rally three weeks from now, intending them to crash and burn. His massive hubris simply wouldn’t have it. I think we’re witnessing an authentic shipwreck: total disconnection caused by wilful narcissistic blindness. He is still convinced he can win.”

Ever since le Président, dressed up as a provincial undertaker with a wide black tie he must have borrowed in a hurry, called a snap general election on Sunday night, one hour after polling stations closed and the victory of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in the European elections was confirmed, the country has been tying itself in knots, trying to understand why he ever thought this could be a good idea.

With about a third of the vote in the life-size poll that is France’s only PR election, the Rally won twice the numbers of Renaissance, Macron’s ad hoc party created in 2017 after he won the Élysée job. The French Left has split between a credible iteration of a revamped Social Democracy under Raphaël Glucksmann, son of the late philosopher André, who polled 13.8 percent to Renaissance’s lackluster 14.5 percent, and Manon Aubry’s France Unbowed list (9.9 percent), a kind of Corbynista Left on acid, who waged almost their entire campaign on the supposed Gaza “genocide.”

The party’s real boss is Jean-Luc Mélenchon, 72, dubbed the “French Fidel Castro,” who rules without internal elections of any kind and disdained even to run for his former MP seat in Marseille at the last general election, two years ago. Once a mild middle-of-the-road Socialist senator under François Mitterrand, this former choirboy-turned-teacher has reinvented himself as the leader of the Party of Rage. His target voters were the discontented residents of the multicultural banlieues, riven, it claims, by systemic racism, who, the minute Sunday’s results were announced, crowded the Place de la République in Paris, vowing insurrection against the “Fascist Right.”

The Left can only hope to win if it reunites, but the Frankenstein party that would result is guaranteed to turn off moderate voters. The archipelago of right-of-centre small parties that are all that remains of a glorious Gaullist past can only hope to win if they ally themselves with the National Rally, which only a few of them would. Macron hopes that he can reinvent himself (again) as the great unifier of the broad anti-Fascist republican centre: his instructions to his disgruntled followers are not to run against any outgoing moderate candidate, be they old-style Socialists, centrists, or traditional right-wingers. Renaissance was his very own thing, and if he wants to break it, he no doubt feels entitled to. (The hard-done-by Renaissance MPs feel quite differently.)

This, of course, neglects the very real detestation of most of the country, who feel he patronises, even despises, them. It is possible, as M. Tandonnet sees it, that Emmanuel Macron doesn’t quite understand how deep it runs: like every French chief of any organisation, he reigns over a court where nobody, ever, contradicts the boss, or even jokes with him (save jokes initiated by le patron lui-même).

Still, the ultimate game plan may run as follows: on July 7, having won the general election on the evening of the second round, the 28-year-old RN list leader, Jordan Bardella, gets named PM by Macron. This unprecedented political gamble is seen as the final attempt by Macron to stabilize his presidency by shifting the responsibility of governance to his far-right opponents, hoping they falter under the weight of real power. Whether this maneuver will stabilize France or lead it to further chaos remains to be seen.

(Associated Medias) – All rights reserved.