Six months into nonstop protests from the gilets jaunes, French president Emmanuel Macron has been locked in a political pressure cooker. But his staying power may have just burned out.
In this week’s European Union parliamentary elections, Macron’s centrist party, Republic On The Move, lost out to the far-right National Rally, led by the charismatic and, at times, terrifying, Marine Le Pen. The Rassemblement National scooped up 23% of the vote, claiming territory in, “the rural, depressed and deindustrialized areas,” of France, whose citizens turned up to vote in unprecedented numbers. Much of this support came from supporters of the Yellow Vest protest movement, who see Macron as a “president for the rich,” who favors globalization over the ever more popular ideology of nationalism. Though the National Rally beat La République en Marche by only about 1%, the implications are fraught, with some political theorists relating France’s current divide all the way back to medieval political structures.
Macron’s response to the election results was all smiles and optimism, but with the yellow vests coming off and most of the country dressed in navy blue, it’s starting to look like the president has no clothes.