French legislative elections: international media reactions

The last French elections of the 2022 legislative elections were highly anticipated worldwide. As for the French, beyond the borders, the reactions have been diverse.

International media consider Emmanuel Macron's relative victory as a defeat which might be difficult to handle. Foto: ActuaLitté / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 2.0

(Elsa Woeffler) – These are unprecedented results in every respect. If in France, the perception of a National Assembly without an absolute majority does not frighten the French, in the world, the questions multiply and the reactions, too. Moreover, the international press has not missed a beat in making this known. The headlines of the newspapers are almost all on the same wavelength: the French president illustrating the front page with a serious face, illustrating the loss of his absolute majority in parliament. Indeed, in the United States, the newspapers are worried about a paralysis of power with “an unprecedented influence of the extreme right and left”, according to the Wall Street Journal, and the same sound is heard by the famous New York Times, which fears to see a locked France and a fragmented parliament. The oppositions’s  call for the resignation of the French Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, raises fears of political instability, while the new government is barely holding together, exerting a certain pressure according to The Guardian.

In Europe, reactions are more optimistic, considering the centrist Macronist policy. However, one of the leading German newspapers, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, sees this election as a punishment for President Macron’s method, while the Swiss Tribune de Genève describes Emmanuel Macron’s “non-campaign” as a sin of pride. The same is true for the British media, for which Emmanuel Macron is “chastised” for his problems, according to the BBC. For the British, President Macron’s government was in free fall in the polls before the elections and, above all, during the fiasco of the football match at the Stade de France, blaming Liverpool fans instead of admitting a hoax in the handling of the situation by the French authorities. Finally, on the Spanish side, Madrid points to the growing abstention in European elections – and the French legislative elections are just an example for this trend.

There are many concerns, and for good reasons. France is experiencing an unprecedented situation, never before seen under the Fifth Republic. For the second consecutive term of President Macron, there is no clear majority and the opposition is determined to make its voice heard. For the Italians, Mélenchon is compared to the former president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. Thus, for them, the left is a so-called “fighting left”. Between the extreme left and the extreme right, the heart of the French National Assembly is visibly swinging. Beyond the two extremist parties represented in high numbers in the French Parliament, the rise in the number of seats of the extreme right-wing party “Rassemblement National” has not gone unnoticed. The Repubblica mentions the achievement of Marine Le Pen with her number of deputies in the French National Assembly.

Reactions from the international press are numerous: if most Europeans seem to be happy with Macron’s relative defeat (if his party lost the absolute majority in parliament, it is still the strongest party), on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, the reactions are more mixed and express the fear of a paralysis of power. The French National Assembly is now divided into three parts and it is up to Emmanuel Macron to find a way to handle this situation.

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