ast October, at the beginning of Emmanuel Macron’s seemingly quixotic quest for the French presidency, Le Monde reported that the French, although always the pessimists, were in a terrible funk. Few had any confidence in the solutions that the political candidates were putting forward on the campaign trail, and many feared that France was about to succumb to the same furies that had led British citizens to turn their backs on the European Union and American voters to elect Donald Trump. They agonized over the possibility that Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right populist National Front, might become the president of the Fifth Republic—or, at the least, grow more influential than ever before.
Eight months later, the mood of the country has been utterly transformed. After Macron won the presidency, defeating Le Pen, his budding political movement, En Marche!, now renamed La République en Marche (Republic on the Move), went on to secure an unprecedented landslide victory in the first round of legislative elections last week. According to estimates from the second and final round of votes on Sunday, La République en March and its ally, the centrist Democratic Movement party, won 361 out of 577 seats—slightly lower than the crushing 400-plus majority that they had been slated to win. But it was still a major success for a party that had not existed just over a year ago. Meanwhile, the two parties that had dominated French politics for the past half century, the Socialists and the Republicans, along with their coalition partners, were reduced to shadows of the mighty political machines they once represented, with the Republicans holding on to 126 seats and the Socialists to a mere 46. A wing led by La France Insoumise, the far-left insurgency led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, won only 26 seats, far too few to pose much of an obstacle to the new government. And the National Front, which had consoled its loss in the presidential race.