Though opinion polls predicted that the National Front of Marine Le Pen would win this European Parliamentary election, the actual numbers came as a shock to the French political elite. Rethoric question: why? Then: what will be the reaction?
First of all, the lead of Marine Le Pen’s party is not one or two percentage points, but five-six (one or two would have been manageable with a good mobilization on behalf of the UMP). Secondly, and I believe that this is the more serious part, the support of the FN is geographically relatively even (it was not the case in March, still, everyone was freaked out). The most important thing to remember is the fact that the extreme right party won the majority of French regions, and won the majority of departments (Marine Le Pen’s party came in first in 71 departments, to be exact). It gives the party a chance to impregnate the whole country and to create a solid local network.
Thus, the Socialist Party and the moderate right (the UMP) need to figure out how to counter this local impregnation. If they can’t do that, the French political stability might become endangered. In fact, the 5th Republic cannot handle three evenly big parties, and the whole political sysem might crash under such a weight.
Therefore, on Monday morning, moderate political parties will start to look for the counterstrategy. President Hollande is expected to meet a few members of the government and the PM in order to discuss things to do next. The National Front has already called for the dissolution of the National Assembly, so I am pretty sure that participants will talk about that, too. However, I am convinced that they will not do it. It would not be rational (the moderate right and the moderate left would have to cooperate in certain cases to prevent Marine Le Pen’s party from gaining parliamentary mandates).
The PS and the UMP are not ready for that, obviously (and it is not in their best interest to lift the new opponent up with such an election). The PS is destroyed, the UMP is about to bring the knives out. Though the president of the latter party says that his result should be added to the result of the liberal right, nobody adds anything to anything. The weird affairs of the president (the Bygmalion affair) will surely be on the agenda this week, so the UMP might as well join the PS in organizing crisis meetings. News sources say that party president Jean-François Copé might try to get rid of one or two close aides to handle the situation. I do not know whether that will be enough. For now, it seems that Copé will be soon off the list of 2017 présidentiables.
This week might be full of a sad and crashed PS, and of an introverted UMP. As for Marine Le Pen, she is very okay and she wishes to carry on as before.