After tactical voting, what?

After tactical voting, what?

The great questions as to how France will be governed reflects the magnitude of the strategic success of the parties of the center and left in the run-up to the second round of the national elections. They cooperated well, supporting each other wherever there was a chance to beat candidates of the extreme-right, and they got people to go out and vote. A few days earlier, in Britain, similar cooperation between the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats was crowned with success. Labour won a great majority in the House of Commons (411 of the 650 seats) despite getting a smaller percentage than in the elections of 2017 (33.8 percent today, 40 percent then), when they had lost again to the Conservatives, who had been governing since 2010. The LibDems, too, achieved their best result on Thursday (72 seats, from 11 in 2019). 

Cooperation and the right strategy are vital, then. This was confirmed by the US midterm elections in 2022. Whereas polls were expecting a “red wave” across many states which would hand control of Congress to the Republican Party, the Democrats managed to hold on to the Senate and almost keep the House of Representatives. Democratic operatives had managed to mobilize enough people and to overcome many obstacles to get voters to the polls. Today, with Joe Biden appearing so frail, we can only wonder which party strategy will be able to avert great losses in November’s elections (unless the president pulls out of the race soon). Donald Trump’s handlers have the great advantage that his supporters do not care about his character or actions, and the former president has many allies in many state administrations and on the Supreme Court. 

After their electoral victory, it remains to be seen how the centrist parties and the coalition of leftist parties in France will use their success to create conditions for government. The leftist group’s name – the New Popular Front (NFP) – is a direct reference to the Popular Front which, in 1936, united left-wing parties against the threat of fascism. With Leon Blum as the country’s first Socialist prime minister, the government introduced several important reforms (among them the 40-hour workweek, paid vacation, collective bargaining agreements). But the challenges of the international economy, opposition from other political groups, and infighting brought down the coalition after just 13 months in power. Fascism spread, plunging Europe into a bloodbath. 

Today, the great success of the NFP and the center in stopping the extreme-right’s rise is a most significant achievement in itself. But just as important will be what comes next, as no one party commands a majority in the National Assembly. In Britain, the new prime minister has a plan ready for governing. In the United States, the crucial issue is to keep Trump from being elected. Whatever anyone else may do will be better than what Trump has already announced that he will do.


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