Macron wins gruding support of French Greens as Presidential runoff looms
The French green party has endorsed Emmanuel Macron for French President in the May 7th runoff vote.
Europe Ecology – The Greens (EELV) have given their support to the centrist Macron, who is favoured to win by the polls, over far-right Marine Le Pen for the runoff vote following the first round on April 23rd.
In a statement, national spokespeople Julien Bayou and Sandra Regol endorsed the liberal and anti-ecology policies of Macron as he can at least be fought in parliament which may not be possible should the presidency fall into the autocratic hands of the Front National.
This is hardly a ringing endorsement of Macron, which maintains the divisions between key party figures that developed during the campaign.
EELV presidential candidate Yannick Jadot withdrew his candidacy and endorsed Socialist Party candidate Benoît Hamon, and they jointly endorsed a program which included strong environmental policies. This was an attempt to unite environmental and left forces under a single banner, but it ultimately failed when Jean-Luc Mélenchon could not be brought into the fold.
On the other hand Daniel Cohn-Bendit, former leader of the Greens-European Free Alliance group in the European Parliament, endorsed Macron back in March because he considered him to have a more realistic chance of success.
Cohn-Bendit has now described the choice between Macron and Le Pen as “civilizational”. He also attended Macron’s first round victory party in a Parisian Brasserie, and may be seeking to influence the probable next president.
Though the EELV will now coalesce in support of Macron, the majority of the party which endorsed Hamon in the first round will do so more reluctantly than figures like Cohn-Bendit.
With largely only reluctant support for Macron, and Hamon’s paltry 6% of the vote in the first round, environmentalism in France might appear to be in a weak position but this is not necessarily so.
Environmentalism has permeated the left through both Hamon and Mélenchon, and parliamentary elections in June offer the chance for environmentally friendly candidates to be elected. Under the French system the president requires support in parliament to govern effectively, offering MPs leverage over the president.
This leverage may be particularly powerful with Macron, who lacks a strong electoral machine for the parliamentary elections meaning that his En Marche! (Forward!) movement is unlikely to secure a majority.
Whilst environmentalism’s future in France may not be as bleak as it first appears, the same may not be true for the EELV. As well as running no presidential candidate for the first time in decades and achieving little by doing this, the party is still divided over attempts to work with the Socialist Party over the last 5 years.
The collapse of the Socialist Party and the rise of Mélenchon on the far-left look like a decisive reorganisation of the French left. It remains to be seen what form it will take for the parliamentary elections and what role environmentalism and the EELV will play in its future.