July 15. 2024. 8:06

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Why are the French elections so important for Eastern Europe?


The French voted on Sunday in the second round of snap legislative elections called by president Macron, a historic vote in which the far-right was expected to win. The vote went the other way to the reunited left-wing alliance in the form of New Popular Front (NFP), which came in first place in the second round of snap legislatures, ahead of President Emmanuel Macron’s Ensemble alliance and the Rassemblement National (RN). No coalition obtained an absolute majority in this election.

Now political pundits think that given the election results the country will be heading towards a political deadlock. Public opinion polling agencies forecast that the left will get 184-198 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, Macron’s centrist alliance — 160-169 and the RN (National Union) and its allies — 135-143.

Mr Attal the prime minister of France had offered his resignation in the wake of the result, but Mr Macron has said he needs to stay on for now “to ensure the stability of the country” as the deal-making begins.

But what does this all mean for Eastern Europe?

France heads NATO’s battle group in Romania, the south-eastern European nation on the border with Ukraine. Any change in France’s defense policy will impact directly not only Eastern Europe but the entire NATO alliance. France is the only nuclear country in the EU and has assumed the role of military leader of the European Union. Also, France has several air defense systems station on the NATO’s eastern flank, in Romania.

A Romanian member of the European Parliament said that the elections in France matter greatly to Eastern Europe and the European Union. “France’s problems and Europe’s problems are real. The Green Deal didn’t come with a bang but a whimper, post-COVID recovery is stalling and farmers across Europe are facing difficulties that need to be address. We at the European’s People Party consider that illegal migration, jobs and internal security are European Union’s top priorities in the years to come”, said Rareş Bogdan. Bogdan also said that president Macron knew full well what he was doing when he called snap elections hoping that any political fringe group would quickly fail if it ended up in government.

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Another member of the European Parliament, the German Anna Cavazzini, a member of the Green Group, said that "Brussels and Berlin can breathe a sigh of relief".

“The march of the right-wing nationalists and right-wing extremists has been stopped. This is to the great credit of the French,” Michael Roth, a German foreign policy expert and national lawmaker with Scholz’s Social Democrats. “But it is still far too early to give the all clear, because the nationalist populists on the right and left are stronger than ever,” he added.

The Polish PM whose country also borders Ukraine sounded enthusiastic to the election outcome. “In Paris enthusiasm, in Moscow disappointment, in Kyiv relief. Enough to be happy in Warsaw,” he posted on X late Sunday.

For Eastern Europe and for the European Union, France’s potential political gridlock is no reason to celebrate. For the continent’s defence and wellbeing, a strong, united France is quintessential especially in the face of so many challenges ahead.

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