France’s Left Is Rising, Too

France’s Left Is Rising, Too
A lectern with signs for the New Popular Front can be seen on the empty stage before Jean-Luc Melenchon’s speech at LFI headquarters on election night, in Paris, France, June 30, 2024 (Sipa photo by Telmo Pinto via AP Images).

As the results of the first round of France’s parliamentary elections rolled in on June 30, global media coverage was dominated by images of jubilation surrounding Marine Le Pen and her far-right party National Rally, or RN, which made huge gains. Contrasted with that was the despair among supporters of President Emmanuel Macron over the steep losses suffered by his centrist Ensemble coalition.

Amid their fixation on the rivalry between Le Pen and Macron that has defined French politics for nearly a decade, commentators outside France paid far less attention to the New Popular Front alliance of left-wing parties, which finished in second place in terms of total votes and whose fortunes are improving as rapidly as those of its bitter enemies on the far right.

This resurgence of the French left has begun to gain momentum despite Macron’s efforts to portray centrist parties as the only viable alternative to the far right. Indeed, Macron not only portrayed Ensemble’s blend of social liberalism and market-based reforms as essential to containing the RN and Le Pen, he also sought to marginalize parties of the left that are inherently suspicious of market-oriented solutions to social problems. By presenting his coalition spanning the center-left to the center-right as the only “rational” option when faced with the extreme nationalism of the far right and the supposedly radical anti-capitalism of the left, Macron was echoing themes that helped him first win the presidency against Le Pen in 2017.

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