Monday 8 July 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 8/7/2024

The Monocle Minute

French election: Left celebrates stunning win

The left-wing alliance, New Popular Front (NFP), has pulled off a surprise victory in the final round of France's legislative election but fallen short of a majority. Marine Le Pen's far-right party, National Rally (RN), which had been leading after the first round, finished third behind Macron's centrist coalition. France now faces the prospect of a hung parliament. Tune in to The Globalist from 08.00 Paris time on Monocle Radio for expert commentary and analysis.

Monocle View / Alexis Self

As the French left and centre reassert their authority, the question remains: how long can the far-right be kept at bay?

Three days after a decisive election result in the UK, France woke up on Monday to more uncertainty and confusion. That isn’t the only difference between these two pivotal votes. In the UK, a Labour victory had been a foregone conclusion for weeks. In France, most pundits had predicted that the far-right National Rally, which claimed the most seats in the legislative election’s first round, would again triumph in the second. This latter assumption was proved wrong, as the left and centrist coalitions leapfrogged Marine Le Pen’s party into first and second place, respectively.

That this was achieved through a combination of tactical voting and minatory interventions from politicians and celebrities will not lessen the relief and jubilation of those on the left. But after the last remnants of fireworks have been swept from the pavements of the Place de la République, France will still be locked in political paralysis as it welcomes the world for the Olympic Games. Macron’s election gamble has increased uncertainty and brought the far-right closer to power than ever before. His job now is to contain the chaos that he has unleashed.

Unexpected triumph: Jean-Luc Mélenchon (left) celebrates the New Popular Front’s electoral turnaround

Image: Shutterstock

Analysis / Ed Stocker

Macron’s snap election gamble results in the stalling of France’s far-right – and a turnaround for the fortunes of the left

France’s parliament has been dissolved on 19 occasions throughout its history – and it has rarely, if ever, had a positive outcome. In 1830 it led to a revolution; centre-right president Jacques Chirac’s 1997 move resulted in an uncomfortable power-sharing agreement with Socialist prime minister Lionel Jospin. And however one views Emmanuel Macron’s decision to call a snap vote in the wake of the far-right surge in the European elections, it’s hard to overstate the chaos that it has caused this time.

The far-right National Rally won the first round with a third of the vote but the centre and the left, helped by a high turnout, have managed to secure a shock turnaround in yesterday’s second round, even though numbers are tight. The National Rally has been left trailing with its leader, Jordan Bardella, denouncing rival politicians “stopping by all means possible the French freely choosing a different sort of politics”.

The surprise winner? Leftist coalition the New Popular Front with 182 seats – though, crucially, no side has an absolute majority in the 577-seat National Assembly. The country now faces a messy process of trying to put together a ruling coalition (there is no love lost between Macron and the far-left La France Insoumise party, for example) and an agreement on a prime minister. The big loser in the scrap could be Brand France.

The Opinion

Stronger together? Senegalese members of Ecowas forces in Banjul

Image: Getty Images


Ecowas’s plan to create a new joint military force comes with risks

The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) is finalising a plan to create a 5,000-strong joint military force to tackle terrorism. In a high-profile meeting last week, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, Nigeria’s defence minister, announced that it would cost member states $2.6bn (€2.4bn) a year. When asked where the huge budget would come from, he said that member states would be expected to contribute an agreed amount. That is a pipe dream. Ecowas’s major economies – Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal – are currently enduring generational economic crises that have left them unable to service their annual budgets independently. While terrorism affects most of the region, with Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Mali bearing the brunt, pouring already scarce money into a tiny army is not the answer.

Ecowas is sharply divided between its democracies and its juntas. Last year, a war almost broke out in West Africa when the bloc threatened military action against Niger’s junta. Shortly afterwards, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso requested to exit the union, leaving it fractured. A regional force that can cross borders will probably not be tolerated by paranoid juntas – and there is also the risk that it will be politicised or coerced by those regimes. In the Lake Chad region, the Multinational Joint Task Force – comprising Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Benin and Cameroon – is already fighting Boko Haram.

With terrorists operating transnationally, what West Africa needs is a framework for effective intelligence-gathering and sharing knowledge among its regional armies. In 2006 the bloc signed a protocol in Niamey, Niger, that established a Bureau of Intelligence and Investigation on Criminal Matters. Gathering funds from across Ecowas countries to boost this would be a significantly less expensive solution.

Ope Adetayo is a Lagos-based journalist and writer, and a regular Monocle contributor. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

The Briefings


Keir Starmer will be put to the test as he makes his debut on the global stage

There is no transition period for a new UK prime minister. Last Thursday, Keir Starmer led the Labour Party to victory in a general election. On Friday, King Charles III commissioned him to form a new government. This week, Starmer will appear on the world stage at Nato’s Washington 2024 summit, leading a nuclear-armed member of the UN Security Council’s permanent five. He will be the subject of considerable curiosity. Though he has signalled that Ukraine will have the UK’s continuing support, he is untested and unknown as a foreign-policy player. His reluctance to make clear his stance on Gaza tripped him up during his campaign and appears to have cost Labour several seats. For Starmer, the summit will give him a sense of what kind of transatlantic relationship he can expect. There is usually a natural affinity between Labour Party prime ministers and Democratic Party presidents. Current polling ahead of the US election suggests that Starmer should enjoy this while he can.

Smooth landing: inside Helsinki Airport

Image: Finavia


Passenger experience reaches new heights at Helsinki Airport with Finnair’s lounge redesign

Finnair’s new Schengen Lounge in Helsinki Airport will be unveiled to the public tomorrow, complete with a Platinum Corner for top-tier flyers. “From this lounge, you will be able to look over the runways and see the aircraft,” Meri Järvinen, Finnair’s head of airport customer experience, tells The Monocle Minute.

A year since its centenary, the Finnish flag carrier is looking at ways to enhance passenger experience and sharpen its celebrated Nordic design. “With higher volumes of passengers, we needed more space for them to be able to relax and work,” says Järvinen. Designed by Studio Joanna Laajisto, the lounge comfortably seats 440 guests and features pieces by iconic furniture brands such as Artek and Nikari. This new design follows the refurbishment of the airline’s Airbus A350 and A330 cabins.

Beyond the Headlines


Shore thing: We put the spotlight on Mediterranean style

Warm sun, cool breezes and slow living can inspire fresh approaches to business. In Monocle’s July/August issue, which is out now, we sail across the Med to discover three island fashion brands that could only have been founded where the shore meets the sea.

Subscribe to read the full article or log in to your account if you’re already a subscriber.

Sunny looks from Mierio

Image: Mierio/Anthony Perez

On the rocks: garments by Cecilia Sorenson

Image: Mierio/Anthony Perez

Monocle Radio / The Stack

‘Steak’, Tabar and Cenk Debensason

This week, we speak to Tim Hayward, author of a new book all about steak. Also on the programme: Monocle’s Guy de Launey heads to Tabar’s new location in a former bike factory in Ljubljana to sample Slovenian-inspired tapas and we meet Cenk Debensason of Arkestra in Istanbul.


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