Home News A popular expression: The French and British make their voices heard

A popular expression: The French and British make their voices heard



In an election shock this week, French voters delivered a parliamentary victory to the leftist New Popular Front, which had allied with President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist bloc in a successful bid to derail the expected victory of Marine Le Pen’s far right National Rally, which ultimately came in third.

France is not totally out of the hot water, nor does it have a simple path ahead. Disparate parties and factions that came together to defeat the far right will now have to get to the much messier work of actually governing together. The unifying mantra of warding off the extremists now gives way to disagreements over taxation, Russia, immigration and all manner of other things, which some of the coalition members have had some questionable positions on in the past.

Still, all this uncertainty is far better than the certainty of the far-right’s designs on the country, a testament to the power of the voting public to stand up and say “non.” The country saw its highest turnout for a parliamentary election in decades as French from all walks of life saw the writing on the wall about Le Pen’s surging prospects and did their job to stop it. The first round of voting and popular polls showed the National Rally poised for total victory, but ultimately, there is only one poll that matters, and that’s the election.

Across the Channel, the electoral demise of the Tories in Britain was no surprise, having been widely predicted in the run-up. The British Conservatives are not dangerous risks as the French National Rally, but they’d had more than a decade at the helm and made misstep after misstep, from ruinous austerity to the historical blunder of the Brexit vote, from which the British economy and society won’t soon recover.

As unpopular as the Tories were, this loss wasn’t automatic, either. Labour spent years positioning itself as a reasonable alternative, listening to voters’ concerns and purging some elements of its own party, including ultimately unpopular former leader Jeremy Corbyn. That current leader and Prime Minister Keir Starmer was a relatively unknown figure in British politics up until recently is a further testament to the notion of political preferences and objectives over individuals.

These are lessons that we might learn here in our own fractured and fraught politics. There are many commentators and even some Democratic elected officials stating with full confidence that Donald Trump will for certain win the 2024 election, for a variety of reasons — Joe Biden is too old and seems to have lost a step, voters are convinced that the economy is poor despite almost all indicators signaling otherwise, voters are upset about immigration, and so on. But the truth is, no one really knows; before Sunday’s voting, the French far-right seemed like a lock, yet here we are.

In a lengthy public letter to his fellow Democrats yesterday, Biden insists he’s staying in the race, answering those who want him to step aside for his terrible debate outing. In all this handwringing among the Dems, one thing is sure: Trump is unusually quiet, seeing Democratic squabbling as helping him. Maybe he’s right or maybe he’s wrong. We will all find out in November.

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