France History - From Chirac to Macron

France History – From Chirac to Macron

In the presidential elections of 1995 the Socialist Party nominated L. Jospin. On the right, Chirac got the better of Balladur, but the most relevant figure was the 15% of the votes obtained by Le Pen. In the ballot Chirac had the upper hand, becoming the new president of the Republic, with A. Juppé at the head of the government. A decidedly neoliberal policy, also prompted by the need to agree to the dictates of the Maastricht Treaty, resulted in cuts in social spending and public sector wages. In contrast to Mitterrand’s line, characterized by convinced Europeanism, closeness to the United States and a preferential relationship with Germany, Chirac seemed to want to resurrect grandeur Gaullist, claiming for philosophy a primary role in the world forum; hence also the resumption of nuclear tests (suspended by Mitterrand in 1992) in French Polynesia, suspended only in 1996. In 2000, a referendum reduced the presidential term from 7 to 5 years.

In 2002, in the presidential elections, Chirac achieved an almost plebiscite victory, voted in the ballot round by an electorate (including left-wing ones) fearful of a possible success of Le Pen, whose sensational statement in the first round had raised confusion in the country; the center-right also won the legislative ones, with the clear defeat of the left. In the international field, on the question of Iraq (March 2003) Chirac reiterated the French veto on any military intervention, while within the executive led by J.-P. Raffarin it had to face the welfare reform. The rejection of the 2005 European Constitution in the referendum caused the crisis of the government and of the whole community policy. Raffarin resigned and was succeeded by D. de Villepin, whose government, first in Europe, suspended the Schengen treatyafter the Islamic attacks (July) in London; on labor law, the anger of the Parisian suburbs exploded for the conditions of exclusion of young Maghrebi and Africans, which also highlighted the bitter struggle for the succession to Chirac which opposed the prime minister to the minister of the interior N. Sarkozy, president since 2004 of the Union pour un mouvement populaire, the center-right party born two years earlier from the union of Gaullist, centrist and liberal-inspired political forces. A few months later street demonstrations forced the government to effectively withdraw the law on the first employment contract.

In 2007, at the end of Chirac’s two mandates, the electoral campaign for the presidential elections was characterized by a new programmatic offer, attentive to economic and social challenges, to European politics and to the modernization of institutions, in evident discontinuity with past politics characterized by substantial immobility. Removed the mortgage of the extreme right with the mediocre result of Le Pen in the first round and the centrist alternative of France Bayrou fell, Sarkozy, candidate of the right, standard-bearer of the revival of conservative values ​​and national identity, prevailed over the ballot. socialist S. Royal, who also promoted a centrist and innovative program with respect to the tradition of his party. The government of France Fillon, reconfirmed in the aftermath of the legislative elections, where the right, while maintaining an absolute majority, lost a substantial number of seats compared to the previous legislature (a trend confirmed by the 2008 administrative offices), also saw the entry of some key opposition figures. In the primaries of the socialist party held in October 2011 to choose the candidate in the presidential elections of 2012, France Hollande prevailed, who defeated in the ballot the former Minister of Labor M. Aubry with more than 56% of the votes. The trend towards a change of course, given the decline in support registered by Sarkozy in the course of the following months, was highlighted by the results of the first round of the presidential elections held in April of the same year, in which Hollande imposed himself by collecting the 28, 63% of the votes against the 27% obtained by the outgoing president, while the far right of M. Le Pen achieved a record with almost 18% of the votes. In the ballot held the following month, Hollande received 52% of the votes, becoming the seventh president of the Republic and returning the left to lead the country after 17 years. The local elections held in June consolidated the success of the socialist party, which with its closest allies, Radicaux de gauche and Divers gauche, obtained an absolute majority (50.3%) of the votes in the National Assembly, winning 314 seats out of 577. In September 2012, four months after his ascent to the Elysée, Hollande launched a 30 billion euro budget for 2013, aimed at reducing the GDP deficit from the current 4,

Despite these measures, the worsening of the economic crisis and the inability to adopt public measures capable of promoting growth have produced in the following two years a strong erosion of popular support for the politics of President Hollande’s socialist party, which in the second round of administrative meetings held in March 2014 with a very high abstention rate (38.5%) recorded a heavy defeat by losing 151 cities, while the Gaullist right of the Union pour un movement populaire of Sarkozy became the first party and the Front national of M. Le Pen confirmed its rise by reaching 6.84% of the votes and conquering 14 municipalities. Following the electoral failure, Hollande decided on a government reshuffle, appointing Interior Minister M. Valls as prime minister to replace J.-M. Ayrault. In the’

According to, the increase in consensus in favor of the center-right forces was largely confirmed in the run-off of the local elections held in March 2015: the coalition formed by the UMP and the centrist party Union des démocrates et indépendants (UDI) won 45% of the consensus and 66 departments, while Hollande’s socialists (32.1%) dropped from 61 to 34, and M. Le Pen’s Front National (22.2%), although established in 31 cantons, did not even obtain a department, while in the first round of the regional consultations held in the following December, a few days after the tragic attacks in Paris, the French far-right party was the first in the country,receiving 28% of the vote and overcoming Sarkozy’s conservative right-wing coalition (27%) and Hollande’s socialist party (23%), but the “republican dam” held by Gaullists and Socialists for the ballot Front National did not conquer even one of the six regions it was leading after the first round, while seven regions went to the Republicans and five to the Socialists.

In the following months, the unpopular measures that Hollande found himself forced to adopt to face the economic crisis and the threat of terrorism, against which the president elaborated uncertain strategies and introduced measures restricting certain freedoms, further eroded his consensus and, in view of the presidential elections in April 2017, crucial political balances have been redrawn, with the clear defeat imposed on Sarzoky by Fillon, elected candidate of Les Républicains (name assumed by the UMP since 2015) in the race for the Elysée, Hollande’s choice not to run for a second presidential term and Valls’ decision to run for the consultations and resign from the office of premier, succeeding B. Cazeneuve. The centrist independent candidate E. Macron in the first round of consultationswon 24.01% of the votes, followed by M. Le Pen (21.3%), with whom he faced the ballot of May 7, receiving 65.8% of the votes against 34.2% of the political woman and taking over from Hollande in the presidential office from 14 May; for the first time in the history of France the candidates of the parties that have structured the political life of the country were excluded from the second round: the socialist party, represented by B. Hamon (6.3% of the votes), and the center-right of Les Républicains, represented by Fillon (20.01%). The day after taking office M. appointed center-right exponent E. Philippe as prime minister; this appointment allowed the new president to attract the moderate electorate to the legislative elections held in June, recomposing the political landscape. The consultations (which recorded over 50% abstention) have sanctioned the clear victory in the first round of the En marche! Party, which won 32.3% of the votes, followed by the Gaullists (21.5%), by the Front National (13.2%) and the Socialist Party (9%), securing an absolute majority in Parliament; these results were confirmed by the ballot, with En marche! (later La République En MarcheLaREM), which won 351 seats out of 577, while the Socialist Party fell from 258 MPs to 29, Les Républicains from 185 to 131 and the Front National won 8 seats. The progressive decrease in popular support for President Macron, in a country repeatedly hit by international terrorism and urban uprisings organized by the Yellow Vests movement since October 2018, was clearly reflected in the results of the European elections held in May 2019, at which the LaREM-MoDem list of the politician obtained 22.4% of the votes, surpassed by the Rassemblement National by M. Le Pen (23.3%) and with a significant affirmation of the Greens (13.4%), and regional elections of June 2021, which did not see the victory of the party En marche! in any region, in the face of the consolidation of the Gaullist right and the socialists. In July 2020 Prime Minister Philippe resigned with the entire executive, taking over from him J. Castex.

On 1 January 2022, France assumed the presidency of the Council of the European Union.

France History - From Chirac to Macron