French Elections—A New Chapter for Leaderless Europe
The final round of France’s parliamentary elections yesterday was disastrous for French President Emmanuel Macron. He clearly wants to be the strongman of Europe. Yet now he’s in a weaker position than any president in the history of the fifth republic.
Macron’s Ensemble coalition won only 245 seats, with 289 necessary for a majority. This is the first time in the history of the fifth republic that the president has failed to win a majority in Parliament. Le Monde called it a “nightmare scenario” and a “stunning blow.”
The ambitious president could now find himself a lame duck. It’s going to be very hard for Macron to assemble any kind of workable coalition. He has been hit by the same political disease as the rest of Europe: the rise of the fringes.
A group called nupes—the New Ecological and Social Popular Union, led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon—came second in the election. This was a temporary, electoral alliance of Communist and Green parties; they will not necessarily sit in Parliament as one party. They want to see the government take over French banks, energy and other strategic industries; lower the retirement age; and hand out free money to those under 25. They want the government to cap prices and rents. And they want the French to work less. They believe laws making it illegal for people to work more than 35 hours a week are too lax. For some sectors, they want that cut to 32 hours. And they want all workers to be legally obligated to take six weeks paid holiday—up from the current five.
So this is not a group that a president struggling to control a dangerously high level of debt will find easy to do business with.
Even more impressive has been the rise of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally—going from just eight seats in the last election to 89. Le Pen’s party is often characterized as far right. It uses authoritarian and nationalist rhetoric, but many of its economic policies are far left. It won’t be easy for Macron to work with either.
If anything, Parliament has a majority of left- and right-wing euroskeptics who want to spend a lot more money. Macron wants to bring Europe closer together and get France’s finances under control. It’s hard to see how he can do any of that with this Parliament. He may be able to persuade enough from other parties to support him on key issues, but they’ll extract a high price.
“Now he is doomed to preside over escalating chaos as France faces a cost of living and debt crisis, a budget deficit untamed by Europe’s highest taxes, an energy crisis, crises in the schools and hospitals, and a law-and-order crisis, all amid the most serious European military conflict since 1945,” was the pessimistic assessment of Jonathan Miller in the Spectator.
This political fracturing has paralyzed many other countries across Europe—including Germany. The rise of the far left and far right mean that more centrist parties lack the majorities to get anything done. This fuels even more discontent with politics.
Until these elections, Macron looked like the strongest and most secure leader in Europe. Italy is led by an unwieldy coalition—with some worried that it could fall tomorrow, with members disagreeing on sending weapons to Ukraine. Germany, Europe’s largest economy and most populous country, has dominated the EU for years. But Germany’s leader is new, still finding his feet and increasingly unpopular at home. Since former Chancellor Angela Merkel left office, Macron has acted as if he’d like to be the leader of Europe.
With Macron a lame duck, Europe’s leadership void could become more acute than ever. Perhaps European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen or Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi will try to fill the role of Mr. Europe. But neither will able to do so as convincingly as Macron.
The alternative is for Macron to sail further into uncharted territory and try to find a way to rule more autocratically—dispensing with the usual restrictions of Parliament and democracy. It would be a radical move—but in these post-covid days it can’t be ruled out.
Either way, it’s a new chapter for Europe: more autocracy or no leadership—while crises engulf the region.
Europe is facing an economic crisis. High inflation is reopening the old wounds exposed by the euro crisis 10 years ago. Italy or even France could find themselves unable to pay their debts as interest rates rise.
At the same time, Europe faces a military crisis. America’s retreat from Afghanistan has proved to European leaders that they cannot trust the United States to defend them. And now they’re facing a war on their Continent, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote in December:
Europeans are facing great crises, including economic instability, terrorism and illegal immigration, rising threats from Asia. In times of crisis, people are less concerned about democratic norms. They need strong leadership. That has to come from Germany, which dominates and even domineers Europe today. It is the powerhouse.
In the end, 10 kings will give their military might to one man, and will form a superpower that will shock the world! We believe there will be one supreme king over 10 kings. (There is a slight possibility that there could be just 10 kings total and that the leadership would come out of Germany.) But whether this prophesied ruler will hold a position in Germany or not, he will rule Germany and the rest of this European conglomerate.
This new chapter in Macron’s presidency seems set to make that happen. Either Macron helps lead Europe into autocracy, or the leadership void becomes even clearer and Europe works harder than ever to fill it. Mr. Flurry continued:
Europe’s present leadership void creates an opening. Even though European states vote their leaders in, they could agree to have one man rule over all of them and give all of their military might (even France’s nuclear bombs) to that overarching power. Suddenly they would not only be a superpower but also a nuclear power with nuclear submarines!
Many biblical prophecies warn us to watch for a strongman ruling over Europe. Several scriptures in the Old Testament, like Isaiah 10, tells us this strongman will come from Assyria—Germany in modern-day Bible prophecy. Revelation 17 tells us there will be 10 kings in this coming European power. France will very likely provide one of those kings. But the overall leader will not be French.
Watch for the results of France’s parliamentary elections to bring us closer to that strong German leader. To learn more about what the Bible prophesies for Europe’s leadership in near future, read Mr. Flurry’s article “Europe Is About to Be Hijacked.”