| A Few Minutes With |

French Revolution?

A few minutes with Mishpacha’s political analyst Jean-Yves Camus

French president Emmanuel Macron, whose center-left Ensemble grouping was soundly chastened in last week’s first round of parliamentary elections, managed to engineer a winning strategy for the second round that kept Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party from a widely predicted majority.
The catch? Macron’s strategy handed the most parliamentary seats to a far-left coalition of Communists, socialists, environmentalists, and pro-Islamists, led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
Le Pen’s National Rally emerged from the June 30 first-round election with 33% of the vote, putting it in the lead. Under France’s arcane electoral rules, only the top two finishers compete in the second-round runoff election, which happened Sunday. Macron worked out a deal with the far-left grouping, the New Popular Front (NFP), such that whichever party finished third in a given district — either Macron’s Ensemble or the NFP — would throw its support behind the other, ensuring a majority against National Rally.
The strategy worked; National Rally had been widely predicted to win a majority in the second round, but instead finished in third place with 143 seats, behind NFP’s 182 and Ensemble’s 168. The problem now, especially for France’s Jewish population, is that the violent, anti-Israel, pro-Islamist extreme left is in the driver’s seat. Macron’s Ensemble is happy to have salvaged a second-place finish, but it has clearly been humbled and will play second fiddle.
Marine Le Pen’s National Rally seems to still be saddled with fascist baggage; her father, party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, was convicted in 1987 of downplaying the Holocaust, a crime in France. But lately, National Rally has emerged as Israel’s most robust defender on the French political scene, and it has taken the strongest stance against Islamic immigration into France. The party’s policies have drawn significant Jewish support.
To analyze this mini French revolution, we spoke with Mishpacha’s political analyst Jean-Yves Camus in Paris, who asserts that “the leaders of the Jewish community must urgently request a meeting with Macron” to clarify his stance following the elections.


What is your initial reaction to the election results?

I am surprised. It’s astonishing that the left came out on top in this election. Moreover, the president’s party did quite well. The traditional right received around 67 seats, which is promising, suggesting that the mainstream right has the potential to rebuild for future elections and become a real alternative.

However, the results also demonstrate that the overwhelming majority of the French electorate still fears the far-right National Rally, which performed quite poorly, far from the expected 280 seats. There will likely be internal discussions within the party to understand what went wrong.

What happens next?

President Macron will now try to build a majority with his party, the social democrats, the centrists, and perhaps some members of the conservative right. This is the only possibility. It’s impossible for Mélenchon and the far left to join the government due to significant differences, especially on fundamental foreign policy issues. It would be totally crazy to have Mélenchon and his party in the government. Their economic and foreign policies are absolutely opposed to what we would expect and are extremely divisive. The French do not want something so far left.

Remember, Labour succeeded in the British elections because Keir Starmer expelled the far-left members. So, actual democracy works well by bringing together conservatives, leftist centrists, and excluding the far left.

After the first round, the forecasts on President Macron’s future were catastrophic. Would it be fair to say that Macron had a good election?

It’s undeniable that he succeeded in stopping the National Rally and that his own party performed quite well. The problem is, how do you form a majority with parties that have differing views on all major issues, as is the case with the conservatives and the center-left? It is simply very difficult to have all of them in the same cabinet. At some point, there will be very difficult negotiations to form a coalition.

Macron emerges relatively well from this election primarily because the National Rally did not achieve a majority. If that had happened, it would have been the end of Macron. But it’s unclear how he will manage to achieve a majority. He will have to work very hard to achieve this.

The left emerged as the unexpected victor in the elections, defying all predictions. This bolstered the image of Mélenchon, an outspoken critic of Israel who has dismissed the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7. What might they demand?

The far left is asking for the prime minister’s position, but Mélenchon won’t get it because he is a very divisive figure. That is the big problem with the far left, and this is what the new coalition needs to make clear: that this party is totally unacceptable. Not just for the Jews, but for all of France.

Their economic policies are totally insane. They just want to spend and spend, and you cannot spend more than you earn. Their foreign policy pits them against NATO, against the United States, and, of course, against Israel.

So, at some point, it must be made clear to Mélenchon that what he wants to do is unacceptable. Therefore, an alliance with part of the left, with part of the social democrats, should be sought, leaving Mélenchon out of this.

Assuming it’s possible to exclude the far left, any coalition government will nevertheless have to include left-wing politicians who have not been particularly friendly toward Israel. Can we expect a hardening of relations between France and Israel?

I hope not. It will be necessary for Macron and his party to be very careful on this issue. They need to tell the far left that some things are unacceptable.

If I were part of the leaders of the French Jewish community, I would request an urgent meeting with the president to tell him what is acceptable for the Jews and what is not.

One of the hot topics in Europe is immigration. Do you think the left’s victory will further open the doors for Muslim immigrants to France?

I don’t think there will be changes in that area. The government will need to dialogue with North African countries. Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has made a very good decision by initiating dialogue with the leaders of North African countries to find a solution to the immigration problem. Unilateral action is unlikely to achieve anything.

Macron called these snap parliamentary elections due to his party’s poor performance in the European elections on June 9. Many believe he acted hastily. To what do you attribute his decision to call for snap elections?

My reading, though I’m not sure if this was what he had in mind, and he denies it, is that he faced the possibility of Marine Le Pen being elected president in 2027, and he didn’t want to go down in history as the man who handed the keys of the Élysée Palace to the far right.

So, he made a bet. His bet was to show that the National Rally is totally unfit to govern the country by calling for elections now. He believed the National Rally would get a majority, form a government, and very quickly show the people that it is totally unfit to govern. That would cost the National Rally public support, and Le Pen wouldn’t win in 2027.

In the first round, he lost that bet, because his party only received 22 percent, making him appear very weak. Now, things might change.

Macron has always portrayed himself as a skillful handler of public opinion. What caused the French to turn their backs on him?

His main failing was that he did not have a majority. He had to assemble a coalition that included members who advocated unpopular policies, such as the pensions reform, which was widely rejected, and tried to cut social benefits for those who had lost their jobs. That was also very unpopular.

Another very important point is how he communicates with the French people. He is very intelligent, but he seems very distant, too detached, like someone who doesn’t want to be informed. So, it’s not just a matter of what he’s done, but how he’s done things.

Very few months ago, Macron appointed Gabriel Attal as prime minister, betting that this move would renew his government. What happened?

Gabriel Attal is also very intelligent, but he has never even been a mayor; he lacks sufficient experience for the position. He has been prime minister for a few months and hasn’t had time to show his abilities before the elections. Macron didn’t inform him of his decision in advance, and Attal is likely not very happy with that. He knows he didn’t have time to show the French what he is capable of.

Although it didn’t get its expected majority, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally won 54 new seats. It also won support from many Jews, including Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld, despite having anti-Semites in its ranks. How can this be explained?

Marine Le Pen takes a pro-Israel stance and does not want France to recognize a Palestinian state. She does not want a cease-fire in Gaza; she supports Israel continuing the war and destroying Hamas. Regarding the local Jewish community, she said she would not ban the wearing of the kippah in public, would not ban shechitah, and would continue to fund private schools. That sounds quite acceptable. That’s much better than the anti-Semitic rhetoric of the far left.

One could say “those are good news for the Jews,” but history has taught us that trusting what the far right says in Europe is not a smart decision. Because it’s expected that there will be pressure from far-right party members to move away from what the Jewish community requests.

For example, of the 777 National Rally candidates, the press found that 70 of them had posted racist or anti-Semitic comments on social media. A young lady running in the countryside was photographed wearing an SS cap. The problem is that the National Rally did not investigate this candidate, so, despite having normal people, they have a large number of members who do not fit the expected political spectrum. How do you trust a party like that?

Of course, I don’t trust the left either. The left has not only held numerous demonstrations against Israel and the Jews, but the worst thing they did was showing absolutely no compassion after the October 7 massacre. At no point did they address the pain of Hamas’s victims.

Many French Jews are uncertain about the direction of the country. Should we expect a wave of aliyah from France?

I don’t think so. Making aliyah should be a choice, something people do because they consider the State of Israel central to their Jewish identity. If people really want to integrate into Israeli society, they must have strong beliefs, strong values, and a strong commitment, and not be simply looking to escape from France.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1019)

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