PARIS — Lose in the législatives and lose your job. That’s been the unwritten rule for French government ministers running in the parliamentary election since the Sarkozy era, a rule which Emmanuel Macron has said he intends to keep.
Alas for some of the French president’s top lieutenants, while running as a minister used to be a fairly safe bet, lackluster results in the first round mean several freshly appointed ministers are at risk of losing both their prospect of a parliamentary seat and their current ministerial portfolio in the runoff vote Sunday. European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune is among three who could be handing in their notice.
In Sunday’s first round of a two-round vote, Macron’s alliance Ensemble! leaked support across the board, primarily to NUPES, a new left-wing coalition headed up by Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
Fifteen members of Macron’s government are in the running, and 12 of them arrived in first place with good odds of winning their local races. That leaves three whose prospects are bleaker.
Clément Beaune — Europe minister faces Beaunxit
Clément Beaune, France’s minister for European affairs, and a familiar face in Brussels, came second in Paris’ 7th constituency, behind NUPES’s Caroline Mecary, a lawyer and LGBTQ rights campaigner.
Beaune, one of Macron’s most trusted ministers, was parachuted in after Macronist MP Pacôme Rupin decided not to run again. Containing part of the Marais district, the constituency tends to vote left, and is the traditional home of the city’s gay community. From a cynical point of view, it’s easy to see why Beaune was selected: He’s on the left-wing side of Macron’s party, and had a notable coming out in 2020.
Before the first round, Beaune told French journal Mediapart that the constituency’s voters were “left, reformist and European,” but “don’t see themselves reflected in NUPES’s excesses.”
It was a blow, then, when he got 35.8 percent to Mecary’s 41.4 percent. He’ll have to court the constituency’s few right-wing voters if he has any chance of saving his job.
Stanislas Guérini — No party for Macron’s party executive
In the northwest of Paris, Stanislas Guérini, France’s new minister of public services, has a battle before him, after NUPES candidate Léa Balage El Mariky beat him to first place with 38.7 percent of the first-round vote compared with his 32.5 percent.
It’s a shock for Guérini, who’s also the head of Macron’s La République en Marche party and the constituency’s current MP, after he dominated the first round in 2017 with 45 percent of the vote.
Some bad press the week before the vote can’t have helped. The government announced that Guérini wouldn’t be able to work on anything to do with public data storage on the cloud, because his wife works for Google.
A national strategy for cloud computing was precisely what his predecessor Amélie de Montchalin was working on, so it’s not clear if Guérini would be able to do his job, even if he kept it.
Amélie de Montchalin — Ecology minister nipped in the bud ?
Speaking of Montchalin, she’s now France’s ecology minister, and she’s also staring down the barrel of a defeat to NUPES. She beat the Socialist Party’s Jérôme Guedj to become MP of Essonne’s 6th constituency, southeast of Paris, in 2017. But Guedj has come back with a vengeance, winning 38.3 percent of the vote to her 31.4 percent.
Remaining voters mostly belong to the right or the far right, so the historically center-right Montchalin perhaps has more of a chance to make up ground than the other ministers under threat. It’s still a tall hill to climb, but there’s no doubt she intends to climb it, calling on Monday morning for voters to reject “disruption and anarchy” by “block the far left [in the polls] on Sunday.”
Out of the 12 ministers who have reached the second round in first place, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and junior Finance Minister Gabriel Attal are all but elected, while Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne faces slightly more serious opposition from Noé Gauchard, a 22-year-old candidate for NUPES, who obtained 24.5 percent of the vote as opposed to Borne’s 34.3 percent.
Officials who’ve come out on top but still face a strong challenge include Trade Minister Franck Riester, Health Minister Brigitte Bourguignon and Olivier Véran, minister for parliament relations and democracy.
That last job could get particularly spicy if Macron’s alliance fails to win an absolute majority, which is a real possibility in the second round on June 19.
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