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Unnatural Alliances : Macron turns to the islamo-marxist left for support

4 min

The second round of the election could yield far fewer seats in parliament for Le Pen’s National Rally than the first round had suggested.

Emmanuel Macron, Reuters 

The second round of the election could yield far fewer seats in parliament for Le Pen’s National Rally than the first round had suggested.

Whom are French Jews to believe ahead of the general election’s second round, this coming Sunday? Their chief rabbi, Haim Korsia, just urged them “not to vote for the National Rally nor for La France Insoumise” — neither for Marine Le Pen’s right-wing populists nor for Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Islamo-Marxists, known as France Unbowed. 

In practical terms, that leaves them with no other choice but President Macron’s centrist coalition, Ensemble, or a few non-France Unbowed left-wing parties — the socialists, the communists, or the Greens. Yet those parties, awkwardly enough, are running as partners to France Unbowed within the left’s umbrella bloc, the New Popular Front.

Three other prominent leaders of French Jewry have co-signed the Chief Rabbi’s declaration. These include the lay chairman of Consistoire central, the national union of synagogues, Elie Korchia; the president of the Representative Council of French Jewish Organizations, Yonathan Arfi; and the chairman of the United Jewish Social Fund, Ariel Goldmann.

The day before, however, 100 French intellectuals, Jewish and non-Jewish, took a completely different stand. According to them, the New Popular Front as a whole, and not just France Unbowed, was currently “the primary threat against French Jews.” 

The group of intellectuals included the sociologist Pierre-André Taguieff, an eminent expert on antisemitism; the historian and philosopher Rémy Brague; honorary justice Noelle Lenoir; and historian Georges Bensoussan, the author of “The Lost Territories of the Republic,” the book that warned 22 years ago about the Islamization of French society. 

Chances are that most French Jews will be more inclined to listen to the 100  intellectuals than to the Chief Rabbi and the community’s lay leaders. They know perfectly that Rabbi Korsia’s appeal was “inspired” by Monsieur Macron’s advisors and that he was not in a position not to deliver. They are not convinced, to say the least, by the Byzantine rationale behind supporting people who are currently supporting Mélenchon in order eventually to defeat him. 

Finally, they cannot bring themselves any longer to see Mr. Macron as a friend. It was the president’s personal decision, last month, to ban 74 Israeli firms from the EuroSatory Armament World Fair and thus to grant the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement its biggest success to date in a Western democracy. 

Many Jewish communal leaders understand they cannot simply ignore that France’s largest party, National Rally, is popular, nor underestimate its growing commitment for Israel and other Jewish interests. A delegation of 20 leaders from Greater Paris met with Madame Le Pen earlier this week “to clarify issues.”

The election’s second round can be summarized in one phrase: It’s a move to duels from three-ways contests. There are, out of 577 constituencies, some 300 where the National Rally won a plurality of votes in the first round, on June 30, but can be defeated on July 7, provided the New Popular Front and Macronists unite. 

Such unnatural pacts, known as “fronts républicains,”  or republican alliances, have been implemented in about two hundred constituencies. Assuming they work perfectly, the National Rally would garner about 200 seats in the next National Assembly, and the Left would almost do the same, with 180-190 seats. A far cry from earlier estimates that forecast 300 seats for the Right — more than ten seats above an absolute majority of 289.

The Macronists would win two or three dozen seats in the process, along with a few Right-of-Centre allies, and win between 140 and  150 seats. A loss of 100 seats from the outgoing Assembly: but still better returns than initially expected. 

Monsieur Macron hopes to secure out of such figures something of  a working majority in Parliament, through an alliance with the non-France Unbowed far left — and maybe some “support from outside” from France Unbowed — at least until the next snap election in one year from now. He should listen to Mr. Mélenchon, who already warned he would not oblige: “If Macron has no majority at the National Assembly, he must resign immediately.”

For the time being, many politicians fancy themselves as suitable prime ministers for a center-left cabinet. Think of the socialist former president, François Hollande, who is running for a parliamentary seat in South-West France. 

Or the conservative president of the Northern France region, Xavier Bertrand, who doubles down on “front républicain” orthodoxy: going so far as to support a communist candidate, Marine Tondelier, who actually supported him against Marine Le Pen in the past. Mr. Bertrand would not see a National Assembly without a majority as “chaotic” but “on the contrary, it would be an opportunity for a restored parliamentary democracy.” No less.

What about the a 48-year-old journalist and filmmaker turned politician, François Ruffin, who was regarded for a while as France Unbowed’s rising star but then took exception to Mr. Mélenchon. He now claims he has no intention, once elected, to sit with his former France Unbowed comrades, and insists he is, after all, “a social democrat.” No doubt he is ready to serve in a Macronist-leftist government as a senior minister.

What is true of French Jews in particular, though, is true of the French at large: they may not be willing to follow their headquarters’ guidelines on July 7, but rather to insist on judging for themselves. According to an Ifop poll, voters may be evenly divided when it comes to a duel between National Rally against France Unbowed, even in places where the combined center-left vote was stronger than the National Rally vote in the first round. 

Alternatively, 54 percent of the New Popular Front supporters say they will not vote for Macronists on July 7, even in order to beat a candidate affiliated with Madame Le Pen.

The last question mark is about the second round’s timing. July 7 means that for many of the French, summer vacations have already begun, and it is unclear whether those who had made plans in this respect long before the snap election will bother to take part in the second round, even through remote voting. Some observers think that a lower turnout may benefit the right more than the left.

By Michel Gurfinkiel, The New York Sun 

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