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🇫🇷🗳 The Return of the French Election Twitter Summit
📚 And Part Two of the Cosmopolitan Globalist's Book Club discussion of Bloodlands
We have a full day scheduled for you tomorrow. Here’s your international time zone clock.
🇫🇷🗳 First, join Arun Kapil, Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, Jérôme Clavel, and moi at 4:00 pm Paris time—1400 pm GMT—tomorrow to handicap the legislative elections (which take place on Sunday) and discuss what’s turned out to be a quite suspenseful contest.
➥ 🍷🥖 🇫🇷Here’s the link.🇫🇷
Here’s a FAQ and a bit of background reading if you’d like to understand what’s happening and why this is going to get interesting before you join us:
Q. What do French deputies do, exactly?
A. They sit for five-year terms in the National Assembly, voting for legislation in the hémicycle—a semi-circular chamber—in the Bourbon Palace. They also monitor the government—for example, by convening parliamentary inquiry committees.
Q. How do you become a deputy?
A. You’re elected. By universal suffrage in a two-round, first-past-the-post system. The first round is on Sunday and the second is a week later. If in the first round a candidate receives an absolute majority and if 25 percent of registered voters cast a ballot, he or she is elected without going to the second round. (That’s rare, though. In 2017, only four deputies won this way.) Any candidate who receives 12.5 percent of the vote in the first round progresses to the next round. If only one candidate gets 12.5 percent, the next-highest-ranked candidate goes to the second round. If no one gets 12.5 percent, it’s a contest between the two candidates with the highest score.
Q. I see. How many seats are there in the National Assembly?
Q. Why 577?
Seats are divided into circonscriptions, or constituencies, each representing 125,000 residents. Territorial France has 566 circonscriptions; another 11 represent French citizens who live overseas.
Q. So how many seats do you need for a majority?
A. 289, obviously.
Q. I guess I could have figured that out without asking. How many candidates are running?
In the first round? 6,293.
Q. Wow, that’s a lot. So, what’s a parliamentary group?
To form an official group, you need 15 deputies. Any elected deputy can join any group he or she wants to. Usually, they join a group representing their political party, but sometime deputies whose party doesn’t have many seats will band together to meet the 15-deputy threshold.
Q. Why do you need a parliamentary group?
Because only parliamentary groups receive funding to cover their expenses. Also, you get more speaking time if you’re in a group.
Q. I see. And what do you get if you have a 58-deputy group?
A. You get the right to issue a no-confidence motion!
Q What do you get if you have a 60-deputy group?
A. You get the right to challenge a law by sending it to the Constitutional Council for review!
Q. What do you get if you have a 185-deputy group?
A. You get the right to hold a national referendum, provided you first get the signatures of 4.7 million registered French voters!
Q. Wow, that’s quite the incentive. So, what’s “cohabitation?”
A. That happens when the president and prime minister are from opposing political parties. If the opposing party has a majority in the National Assembly, the president has to name a prime minister from that party. The president and prime minister are then obliged to cooperate to run the country. This has happened three times since 1958. Historically, it’s been paralytic for French politics.
Q. So which groups are in the running this time?
A. Ensemble, Macron’s centrist alliance, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s new ensemble of the lunatic left, NUPES.
A. Yups! The Nouvelle Union populaire écologique et sociale, or the new ecological and social popular union. NUPES involves Mélenchon’s neo-Trotskyite party, the Greens, the Socialists, and the Communists. The exciting thing about these legislative elections—if you’re following it for the sport—is that the French left overcame its terminal disunity (a fractiousness so severe that no left-leaning candidate made it to the runoff in the presidential election) and united behind Mélenchon. This is astonishing, because the various NUPE-tials are people who hate each other so much that it’s an amazement they could be in the same room without coming to blows.
Anyway, the goal is to to hobble Macron’s presidency by forcing him into a cohabitation. Mélenchon wants to be the prime minister. He’s spent the past two months lobbying voters to give NUPES the majority, telling voters to “elect me prime minister,” and using the slogan “Mélenchon à Matignon”—the prime minister’s residence.
Q. So he automatically becomes prime minister if NUPES gets a majority?
A. Nopes! Constitutionally, it’s the president who appoints the prime minister. Not the parliament, and not the voters.
Q. So why does Mélenchon keep telling French voters to “elect me prime minister?”
A. He thinks that if NUPES gets enough votes, it will be seen as a popular mandate for this plan, and Macron won’t be able to say no.
Q. Is it likely they’ll get enough votes?
A. No, but it’s not impossible. NUPES has been rising in the polls. It looks like NUPES and Macron’s Ensemble will be neck-in-neck in the first round. NUPES will probably replace the center-right Républicains as the main opposition.
My suspicion? NUPES might well pull it off. The French electorate is dying to stick it to Macron, and this would certainly stick it to him.
Q. How many seats did Macron’s party win in 20017?
A. 306. The centrist MoDem party entered a coalition with Macron’s party, giving them 42 more seats.
Q. What happens if Ensemble gets fewer than 289 seats?
A. That depends who gets the other seats. If the Républicains do well, it could make them into kingmakers. If NUPES gets a majority, Macron is foutu.
Q. What ever happened to Marine Le Pen?
A. Everyone’s forgotten about her already.
A reading list
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the great illusion. (In French.)
The column below is funnier if you know the politicians involved, but it’s funny even if you don’t.
On the proposal of Prime Minister Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the President of the Republic appointed today, June 23, 2022:
Minister of State, Guide of Consciences, little father of the people, in charge of the depersonalization of power by a Sixth Republic: Monsieur Mélenchon, Jean-Luc.
Minister of Degrowth, Debt Cancellation and Nationalization, responsible for the taxation of the rich: Madame Manon Aubry.
Minister of Ecology, responsible for dismantling the nuclear industry: Monsieur Fabien Roussel.
Minister of Occupational Disposal, in charge of the 32-hour week and retirement at 60: Monsieur Philippe Martinez.
Minister of the Interior, responsible for the disarmament of the security forces and the organization of the 4th, 5th and 6th rounds of the presidential election: Monsieur Alexis Corbière.
Keeper of the Seals, Minister of Justice in charge of victims of police violence and firefighters: Monsieur Hager A., street-medic.
Minister of National Rehabilitation, responsible for the elimination of gendered behavior in kindergartens: Madame Caroline de Haas.
Minister of Franco-Russian Friendship and Relations with Chavista America, responsible for disobedience to the European treaties: Madame Danièle Obono.
Minister of Culture, in charge of subsidized happenings: Madame Corinne Masiero.
Minister of Water Sports, in charge of worship: Monsieur Eric Piolle.
Minister of Deconstruction, responsible for the nationalization of privacy and criminal policy of household tasks: Madame Sandrine Rousseau.
Minister of Plant Health, responsible for the fight against the vaccination lobby and the generalization of the precautionary principle: Madame Michèle Rivasi.
Minister of Biodynamic Agriculture, in charge of school canteen menus without dead or live non-human animals: Monsieur Aymeric Caron.
Secretary of State for Biodiversity, responsible for the extinction of elephants: Monsieur Olivier Faure.
Government spokesman, in charge of spontaneous anger and viral videos: Monsieur François Ruffin.
The Council of Ministers will meet on Wednesday at 10 a.m. (In French.)
☞📚 Once you’ve raced through the French législatives with us, join us tomorrow at 15:00 GMT, when the Book Club convenes to discuss the second part of Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin.
We very much hope you have nothing else planned for the weekend.
See you tomorrow!