The strong diversity of opinions represented in the new French Parliamentary Assembly – and with it the plurality of parties present in the circulation – is a good sign of the renewal of democracy, even if it also carries risks given the presence of far-right forces.
Bicycles will become a battleground on local policy issues, especially social issues related to pensions, wages and purchasing power.
But we cannot forget foreign policy questions: Indeed, between the RN and La France Insoumise (LFI), the Assembly can open up to voices more favorable to Russia than advocated by the Elysee and the Macron administration. The French decision to continue the dialogue at least With Moscow it is criticized by some of the most ferocious European partners in their condemnation of Russia, such as Poland or Great Britain. However, it is still moderate and in line with the general Western European consensus compared to certain voices that will henceforth emerge from the orb of blood.
The left is divided on the Russian question
On the left, opinions are divided. The Nupes alliance may quickly find itself in difficulty due to its positioning towards Moscow and the war in Ukraine. In fact, ecologists and socialists are more negative towards Russia than the LFI and especially its leader Jean-Luc Melenchon. The latter has repeatedly criticized the sanctions policy applied since 2014 against Russia and the offense of NATO, which he considers the aggressor in the current Russian-Ukrainian war, while supporting Ukraine in its right to defend its sovereignty.
The supposed “rossophilia” of some LFI leaders is in fact very restrictive and limiting: it is dictated by the desire to distance themselves from the United States and NATO and the weight of military-industrial complexes in foreign policy. However, the LFI, including its leader, finds itself at odds with Moscow on issues related to societal values: Moscow’s status as a harbinger of conservative Christian values, its politicization of homophobia and its anti-multiculturalism, is in direct contrast to the LFI on this issue. Defending gay rights and celebrating ‘Creole’ France.
On the right, the inclinations of Rossophilia are influenced by the war, but are very present
In Les Républicains, the pro-Russian voices heard about François Fillon in 2017 dulled with the war. Twenty-four deputies of the Chamber of Deputies out of 62 in their new group are members of the Franco-Russian friendship group, including many who have somewhat favorable attitudes to Moscow. Some, for example, participated in parliamentary delegations to Russia or Crimea (Eric Ciuty, Olivier Marlex, Marie-Christine Dallose). If the LRs disagree on the question of their geopolitical orientation (Eric Ciotti had to leave the integrated command of NATO, Valérie Pécresse was more Atlantic), they largely share the Russian discourse on Christian values.
Also on the far right, pro-Russian voices have waned since the invasion of Ukraine: the National Front voted in favor of anti-Russia sanctions but proposes not to add new sanctions, wishes to limit military support to Ukraine, leave the integrated command of NATO, and as soon as peace is possible between Moscow and Kiev, Re-launch the “strategic rapprochement between NATO and Russia”. The convergence of ideology and interests with Moscow still exists and could gradually re-emerge once the wave of pro-Ukrainian sentiment ends.
Indeed, since the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, MEPs have defended the Russian system by voting almost systematically against European Parliament resolutions condemning Moscow’s violations of international law.
Ideologically, nothing limits support for Russia: the geopolitical alliance (anti-Atlantic, criticism of NATO) is multiplied by an alliance of values (Christian heritage of Europe, defense of the heterosexual family, anti-immigration policy, etc.).
Added to this are the bonds of personal friendship: the Le Pen family has been closely associated with the Russian Right since the 1960s and all generations are involved, from Jean-Marie to Marion Marechal via Marin.
Read more: A long honeymoon between the National Gathering and Russia
There are also dependency relations, mainly financial: the RN still has to repay the Russian loan for the 2017 elections, which it will now be able to do in view of the amounts that the state will pay it to, in proportion to its results. Business contacts are equally important: many personalities close to Le Pen or members of the RN conduct business or consulting activities in Russia. These friendships and trade relations indicate a more favorable political position for Russia, especially with regard to a significant lifting of sanctions.
Some NRP deputies such as Helen Laporte, the new assembly vice president, Frédéric Boccaletti, Julie Lechanto, or even Bruno Belde, have been invited to Russia to observe the election or the 2020 referendum, many of them members of the Franco-Russian cooperation groups (Alexandra Mason in Nadi’s office Franco-Russian Works, Nicolas Maisonnet in the Franco-Russian Friendship Group in the Assembly).
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What is the real impact on decision making?
What will be the consequences for the National Council? We can of course expect a more nuanced rhetoric about Russia within the blood orbit in the coming months, especially as the conflict solidifies over time. But what are the implications for political decision-making? Foreign policy remains the president’s domain. On a daily basis, choices are made by the advisors of the Elysee, Office of the Secretary of State, Quai d’Orsay.
In the event not directly affecting French foreign policy at the highest level, some of the new pro-Russian voices in the Assembly will refocus key institutions such as the Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Defense Committee, parliamentary groups and other Franco-Russian friendship structures, and parliamentary diplomacy.
Thus, there is a risk of a disharmony emerging in Russian issues between the Elysee and the Palais Bourbon, in a style similar (with opposite roles) to the contrasts between the US administration and the White House during the presidency of Donald Trump.
The new face of the association represents the legitimate choice of French men and women. In addition, most CAC40 companies want to return to the Russian market once they have a better view of the political situation and investment climate. Therefore, Macron’s presidency will have to find a difficult balance between the multiple voices calling for a reconsideration of sanctions against Moscow, the restoration of dialogue with the Kremlin and the preservation of the course set in the Elysee and in Brussels on political and military support for Kyiv. term.
Beren Sher is preparing her thesis under the supervision of Emmanuel Fay (Rowan University) and Marilyn Laruel (George Washington University).