French elections in the crisis of the European policy

It is difficult to make predictions but the fact is that the traditional politics of the center and center-left have been defeated.

The  victory of the Rassemblement national in France was widely expected but this extent. It is an event that radically changes European politics. For many decades there has been no lack of changes in the direction of French politics, but these have always been changes that did not upset the traditional political framework. Now it presents itself in a different circumstance, both because the winning party does not have a history in government and because it upsets the traditional European balances

The Le Pen’ party had never exceeded 18 percent of votes. By 2022 it had won 93 seats in the national assembly and this was considered a success. Now the party, under the leadership of the young Jordan Bardella, has obtained an absolute majority with 33 percent that exceeds the total votes obtained by the five-party coalition, a heterogeneous sum of parties with different visions of national politics. 

It is difficult to make predictions but the fact is that the traditional politics of the center and center-left have been defeated. A significant change after decades of politics which saw a center-right and center-left coalition in alternance in the government, fundamentally inspired by the same European politics.

We are witnesses of profound changes in the European history of the last decades.

Changes in the European history

We can give a brief look at the beginning of the new European policy with de Gaulle's presidency at the end of the 1950s, and of following decade, m defining the European community as a community of states, which assume common policies in different economic and social sectors, but keeping the state sovereignty.

The radical change occurred with the presidency of Mitterrand, at the beginning of the 1980s, together with Jacques Delors, first a member of the French government and then president of the European Commission.

It was during the nineties  the effective step towards the European Union when the national sovereignty,  with regard to domestic policy, was definitively liquidated. under  the premiership of Mitterrand and Kohl. 

In the following years, Germany led by Angela Merkel, chancellor for 16 years, while cultivating a relationship with France at the helm of European politics, had also collaborated with the Russian Federation led by Vladimir Putin. Strengthening cooperation between Germany and Russia also included doubling the gas pipeline under the North Sea to ensure the supply of essential gas to Germany and other European countries.

As we know, after Merkel's resignation, German and European policy towards Russia changed radically. With the new tripartite government made up of parties at odds with each other, Germany abandoned its collaborative relationship with Russia. Putin invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Germany was left without a compass. Remembering the old and varied European politics is useful to understand the current change in European politics both in domestic and international politics.

France, led by Macron, first attempted a dialogue with Russia, then chose a line of confrontation. In essence, a Germany without an effective  leader, and a France oscillating between opposing political parties. And the European Union under the sceptre of American policy.

 A changing future

In this variable framework the radical change in the French policy was unexpected . The French government led by Macron had not an effective majority. German government lead d by the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz was a minority government. European politics directed fundamentally by the Franco-German duo has lost all consistency.

The conflict with Russia has produced a profound change in the global gas network with major problems for Europe. It should be added that Biden's American government is much less interested in Europe given the war in the Middle East and its implications with the rest of the world.

It is in this profoundly changing world that European politics has lost its role. Italy, the third country of the European Union, is in the hands of a right-wing government divided on the foreign policy.

It is in this context that France has radically changed its political structure with the almost doubling of the far-right party under the leadership of Le Pen and Bardella. The success of Le Pen's party was of unexpected magnitude. But it is the result of a confused European policy of which France and Germany are mainly responsible.

It has to be added the inconsistency of the European commission without the determinant support of German and France.

 We are in fact faced with the European Commission, which seeks to impose recessive policies on countries characterized by profoundly different economic and social conditions. The profound change in the French structure is the sign of a substantial crisis in European politics after decades of apparent stability. 

Whatever one evaluates current politics, it is indisputable that the elections in France will be the origin of profound changes not only in France but in European politics. Predicting the future is always a difficult task. But it is a fact that we are in the presence of profound and unexpected changes. Changes that can open up a new, even  though uncertain, European policy.

Antonio Lettieri