France’s ‘president of the rich’ loses parliamentary majority

The 19 June second round of elections to France’s National Assembly – its parliament – marked a new stage in the political situation that shook establishment circles to their core.

Just two months after retaining the presidency, Emmanuel Macron’s party has lost its majority in the 577-seat assembly and, as French newspaper ‘Le Monde’ headlined, “The National Assembly plunged into the unknown”. Macron, viewed by workers in France as ‘the president of the rich’ due to his pro-big business policies over the last five years, has been severely weakened.

Although his ‘Ensemble’ coalition emerged with the largest number of assembly seats, he now faces a battle to implement his policies, not just from within the assembly but also against stepped-up struggles from the trade union movement. He is now in a fragile position as workers fight against his planned increase in the retirement age, the escalating cost of living and other attacks on living standards.

Adding to Macron’s problems is the loss of some of his top team and allies, as he had pledged that those who lost their seats would stand down from their government positions. This happened to his ministers for health, environment and maritime affairs. Also losing their seats were former interior minister Christophe Castaner and the head of the assembly Richard Ferrand.

Most of these individuals were defeated by left candidates in the NUPES alliance led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon. NUPES, the ‘New Ecological and Social Popular Union’, was formed as an electoral alliance of Mélenchon’s FI (France Insoumise) with the PS (Parti Socialiste), EELV (Greens) and PCF (Communist Party) after April’s presidential election – in which each of those parties had stood separately.

NUPES did well in the legislative elections first round on 12 June (see below), but didn’t manage to increase its appeal enough seven days later in the second round to win a majority of seats in the assembly. Achieving that would have meant attracting a layer of the abstaining workers and youth out to vote. Instead, over half the electorate once again abstained, disillusioned as a result of declining living standards imposed by previous assemblies, whether composed of political parties on the right, the ‘centre’ or the so-called ‘left’ – the latter having been the PS which adopted a pro-capitalist agenda.

Nevertheless, FI now has 72 seats in the assembly, over four times more than its 17 in the last election five years ago. This much larger bloc needs to give a lead in opposing the policies of Macron’s party and others with which he might ally. The 6.4 million votes won by NUPES represents a big potential. It is now crucial that FI structures itself, so as to allow a new layer of people to organise to fight not only Macron but all capitalist policies.

Marine Le Pen’s RN (Rassemblement National), the far-right party that has evolved from the National Front, which contained neo-Nazi elements, created shockwaves by winning 89 assembly seats, due to a campaign focused on social issues. This is its highest number ever, up from just eight in 2017. That serves as a major warning to the workers’ movement. Contrary to Le Pen’s populist rhetoric, the RN’s policies are at root staunchly pro-capitalist as well as vilely racist, and will have to be countered and defeated in the political and industrial struggles to come. 

Gauche Révolutionnaire (GR), the French section of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), participates in France Insoumise and explained that a vote for NUPES was “an opportunity to shake this system and the politicians serving capitalism and to encourage workers’ struggles”. Below is a shortened version of a GR statement written after the first round of the legislative elections and before the second. See for the full statement and further updates.

The good vote for the NUPES left alliance in the first round of the legislative elections shows the potential for defeating Macron through our struggles!

It reaffirmed the support for Mélenchon in last April’s presidential election, in which he received 7.7 million votes.

He had led a campaign with a programme that took up the aspirations of workers and the whole population, including demanding increased pay and a minimum wage of 1,500 euros a month, pensions at age 60, defending public services, and increasing taxes on the rich and the multinationals to pay for all that.

Macron’s coalition ‘Ensemble’, the right in Les Républicains (LR), and the far right in Le Pen’s RN and Zemmour’s Reconquête, all found themselves haunted by a common spectre: the possible victory of a left-wing coalition that shows workers and young people that they don’t have to suffer anti-social policies.

Despite a very high abstention rate, 52%, especially in small working-class towns and working-class neighbourhoods, the first round NUPES vote was on a par with Macron’s, whose vote is in sharp decline compared to the last legislative elections in 2017.

NUPES’ results have been very uneven. Its good votes were often in areas where FI groups have been maintained, or where PCF or EELV activists led the campaign. Where FI activist groups have not been maintained, because of the lack of structures in FI, it was difficult to make up lost ground. This unfortunately confirms what we were already saying in 2017, that it is essential for FI to have local, regional and national structures, operating in a collective and democratic way.

On the one hand, this legislative campaign has seen thousands of young people and workers investing in support for NUPES. On the other hand, there are also thousands among the six million voters who will be more engaged if the FI transforms itself into a structured political force, capable of discussing, deciding, and through that, persistently taking up the defence of workers’ interests.

Many also see that the electoral sequence is only a first step and that it will not be enough to change things in a lasting way. We must therefore prepare for a mass struggle and organise ourselves to build it, and in that way advance our demands on wages, pensions and public services.

A real new mass party of struggle, of workers and youth, against capitalism, must be built in the next period. Such a party would also allow collective discussion on the real alternative we need in order to replace capitalism. It will not be possible to be satisfied with a few nationalisations, although they are essential, especially in the health and energy sectors. A plan is needed to put the main sectors of the economy into public ownership so it can be planned democratically and ecologically, under the control and management of workers, linked up with the whole population.


There are regions where NUPES hasn’t managed to be the main opposition to Macron. Le Pen’s far right saw its vote increase to 4.2 million compared with 2.9 million in 2017. We must add the 960,000 votes for Reconquête, the far-right party of Zemmour, which hasn’t, however, qualified for the second round.

NUPES is an unstable coalition and it can’t be said that some of the parties participating in it will really defend the demands it makes. The Parti Socialiste ended up playing its usual double game. On the one hand, the national leadership accepted the NUPES agreement, and on the other, there were PS federations that maintained their own candidates.

However, the tendency that was seen in the presidential election for a combative policy against Macron and capitalism by supporting the candidacy of Mélenchon is being confirmed in these legislative elections.

This translates in a still timid and confused way into a will to unite our camp, that of workers, youth, and the majority of the population, against those policies that make us suffer so much and constantly degrade our living conditions and even the whole of society.