The French elections in June from a European perspective


The results of the French elections for the renewal of Parliament in June remain uncertain. Macron's party that won the presidential election could lose the votes of a part of the left who voted for the it wanted to avoid the possibility of a victory for Marine Le Pen. 
For the legislative election of 12 and 19 Join,  Jean-Luc [L1] Melancon  head of  the leftwing France insoumise  has formed an alliance with the Verts (EELV) and the Communist Party to present a unitary left-wing and ecological list  called “Nouvelle Union Populaire ecologies et sociale”. The common program aims at the conquest of a vast popular consent including in the program a minimum monthly wage of 1400 euros euro, retirement at 60  years, and a more social and ecological European Union.  

The two opposition parties of Le Pen and Mélenchon, which have reached 45 percent of the electorate in the first vote for the presidency, will increase their votes in the next second round of the legislative elections by adding the votes of the minor parties which will not have reached 12.5 percent of the votes in the first round of elections. But, since the opposition is divided, the coalition inspired by Macron, while even though remaining below the majority of the voters, can win  a majority of the parliamentary seats, each of ones is attributed to the party that has acquired the relative majority of votes in each of the almost 500 circumscriptions. 
 According to forecasts, it is therefore foreseeable that France could be governed by a center-right government inspired by the Macron presidency, despite being a minority among the voters. In any case at the center of the politics of Macron's second term of presidency will be the European policy, dominated by the conflict with Russia, its consequences and its difficult solutions.
1.   Ukraine will continue to be the bone of contention. The Ukrainian problem has a long story. In 2014, the Maidan people's uprising saw the end of the regime of ... and later the presidency of Porošenko, a non-party oligarch. At the Minsk 2 conference, France, Germany and Russia pledged to find a solution for Ukraine. But Porošenko dropped the possibility of a negotiation. The question of the Crimea and of ​​Donbass remained open, where the clash was about to cause 15 thousand deaths.
In the 2019 elections, Porošenko was wiped out after being accused of private enrichment to the detriment of the public budget. Zelensky, an actor with no political experience, triumphed. Attempts to reach an agreement were successful. In the summer of 2019 Macron and Merkel reached an agreement with Putin, also signed by Zelensky. The deal never came to life. Ukraine  continued to arm itself with American support by relaunching its request of NATO membership. In this case no a small country as it was the case of Estonia and Latvia but of the bigger country in Europe. More or less like a military alliance that should include Russia on the US border with Mexico. It is in this framework that Macron's attempts trough personal contacts and dozens of telephone conversations with Putin have been totally unsuccessful. 


2.  The Russian invasion of February 24 must be condemned, for the destruction and human consequences that it irremediably entails. But the fact remains that war was avoidable. In the summer of 2001 It was still clear that a peaceful solution was possible, according to the declaration of Putin .

Now the conditions have profoundly changed. The United States has the advantage of waging war without having to commit its soldiers. A condition of privilege after having fought (and lost) in the last twenty years the war against Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention Vietnam). Now US can fight a war without directly participating in it.

Zelenski eliminated all the pro-mediation components from the government. It exploits the European support, albeit with an explicit French reserve and the hesitant German position.


3.   To what extent will this line of inevitable problems for Europe create difficulties for Russia, which has an essential component of the trade balance in gas exports and, more generally, of the national economy?

The first result is to push Russia into the arms of China. The agreement already concluded allows the export of Russian gas to China via the pipeline in operation since 2019 Furthermore, a new pipeline of 50 billion cubic meters per year with origin in Siberia and transit through Manchuria has been agreed between Moscow and Beijing. Russia plays a decisive role in Chinese energy policy which aims to reduce the impact of coal, a source of pollution in its major urban centers.

Another agreement was concluded at the beginning of the year with India for the supply of (liquefied) gas tending to quadruple current supplies. Gazprom's advantage is to be able to define relatively advantageous prices compared to international standards, as Gazprom is a public body with production and distribution of two thirds of the national gas.

 Russia is securing new outlets to an area that includes three billion consumers such as China and India destined to assume a growing role in Asia and in the world economy.

We could add that the paradoxes are multiplying, considering that Russia at the turn of the century, after Putin's inauguration in the Kremlin, seemed to be increasingly integrated with mutual benefit in the European economy. This possibility was a relevant aspect of Angela Merkel's German policy .

4.  Returning to France, whatever the result of next June's elections - a parliamentary majority linked to a left-wing government led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon or, as seems likely, linked to Macron, will be decisive at European level .

Any prediction on the fate of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine is a gamble. What can be said is that a European initiative was possible to avert the conflict with Russia.  In the next future, France, still once, under Macron's presidency, whatever the color of the new government after the June elections, can still take on an important role..

Conditions remain uncertain after the ruins of the war and its tragic human consequences. But it is not difficult to imagine that the conditions that preceded the war are reappearing: the obvious recognition of Crimea belonging to Russia, a particular role to be attributed to the Donbass provinces in the context of a Ukrainian federal state, and the definitive renunciation of the membership to of NATO of an independent Ukraine.  It would be a rational solution.

 But the future remains uncertain.


The War in Ukraine will define the role of the European Union at this stage of history. Over the course of seven years after Minsk, the European Union led by the two largest countries, France and Germany, has repeatedly attempted to actively participate in a solution to the conflict in Ukraine, the largest country in mainland Europe that covers a large part of the border with the Russia. Angela Merkel and the French presidents, Hollande and Macron have worked in this direction. A solution has repeatedly appeared close. Germany and France have shown a clear interest in resuming collaborative relations with Russia, and vice versa.

But the repeated attempts by France and Germany to find a solution in the name of the European Union have failed due to the clear opposition of the United States, which meanwhile armed Ukraine and declared itself in favor of its entry into NATO.


Now, France is once again interested in taking an active role within the European Union. The war in Ukraine, the search for a solution, the future relations with Russia are at the heart of European politics and of the challenge that arises for France. A new active role for France appears as desirable as it is difficult. If it were to fail, if the confrontation with Russia were to remain in American hands, the role of the European Union would definitely prove to be on the fringes of global politics, dominated, on the one hand, by the United States, on the other, by China joined with Russia, also for the mistakes of European politic.


The role of France that will emerge from the elections in June may offer the opportunity for a change of course for the European community not only in its relationship with Russia but also, in the new global order. A reversal of trend that is not impossible but at present difficult to glimpse. In any case, the French elections in June will help define in one sense or another the possible role of Europe in the future of global assets.

Antonio Lettieri

Editor of Insight and President of CISS - Center for International Social Studies (Roma). He was National Secretary of CGIL; Member of ILO Governing Body and Advisor for European policy of Labour Minister. (