/Links 6/29/2020

Links 6/29/2020

For those who may be interested, there were local (municipal) elections in France yesterday. This was the second round, postponed from March after an extremely controversial first round held under the shadow of the virus. Three points are worth taking away.
First, turnout was catastrophically low by French standards – around 40%, less in some areas. This continues a potentially very dangerous trend of alienation from the political process which has been going on for a few years now.
Second, Macron’s party failed to make any kind of breakthrough at local level, which is worrying in a political culture where the local counts for a lot. In particular, they came a humiliating third in Paris, which they originally hoped to take, and had a hard time everywhere, even when they made electoral pacts with old-style traditional Right parties they had earlier tried to differentiate themselves from. The real success, ironically, was Edouard Philippe, the Prime Minister, who convincingly retained the post of Mayor of Le Havre (the Communists came second). Philippe won in spite of, rather than because of, his association with Macron, and the political world is feverishly debating whether he will stay or go, and challenge Macron in 2022. The Rassemblement National did OK, picking up Perpignan, their first city of more than 100,000 inhabitants.
Third, the big winners , arithmetically, were the Greens, who took a number of important cities, often in alliance with the Socialists (yes, they do still exist, just). This is partly explained by the virus and its wider effects, and partly by a restive middle-class electorate disillusioned with the Socialists and looking for something else. The Greens don’t have much of a coherent ideology, and are weak in terms of leadership, but at the moment are acting as a middle-class protest vote. Quite a lot of Macron’s disillusioned PMC supporters have drifted off there.
Short verdict: traditional Left in pieces, traditional Right recovering, RN doing OK, Greens currently in fashion, Macron in deep trouble.

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