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      Political fragmentation and polarisation in France could frustrate pursuit of economic reforms
      THURSDAY, 03/03/2022 - Scope Ratings GmbH
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      Political fragmentation and polarisation in France could frustrate pursuit of economic reforms

      Political configuration following presidential and legislative elections will be critical to determining the next administration’s ability to tackle France’s structural credit challenges (AA/Stable).

      President Macron’s re-election prospects in the 2022 ballot remain strong. According to surveys (as of 1 March), he had a comfortable lead and is likely to secure a second mandate regardless of which candidate is in the second round. Also helping his chances are the pro-Russian sympathies of some far right and far left candidates which could cost them politically in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

      “But a scenario in which the incoming president has to contend with lower parliamentary support for his/her agenda has become more likely as political fragmentation in the National Assembly has reached a high point, while polarisation, reflected in the rise of extreme political forces, has increased,” said Thomas Gillet, associate director in Scope’s sovereign and public sector team. “This could constrain the next administration’s ability to deliver structural reforms and address credit challenges.”

      France elections 2022: Potential political configuration and expected impact on reform momentum

      Source: Scope Ratings

       

      With nine different political groups, the National Assembly has reached some of its highest levels of political fragmentation in the history of the Fifth Republic. “But while politics have become more polarised, tail risks related to major policy shifts have been reduced since the gradual normalisation of the far-right and far-left positions regarding ‘Frexit’, which none of the major candidates support today, despite Eurosceptic inclinations,” said Thibault Vasse, senior analyst in Scope’s sovereign and public sector team.

      France’s mainstream parties on the right and left were diminished by the launch of President Macron’s party at the time of the 2017 elections but the initial dynamic behind Macron and his party has weakened over the course of his mandate. These factors have increased the risk of the next President having to form alliances or a coalition in response to a weaker standing in the National Assembly, or ending up with an antagonistic National Assembly and governing through cohabitation.

      “Although the centre-right and mainstream right agendas diverge in some areas, there are broad similarities, such as deep attachment to pro-European policies, ambitious reform to support a business-friendly environment, and modernised but relatively large social policies” said Brian Marly, analyst in Scope’s sovereign and public sector team. “The moderate tone of their proposals in comparison to other extreme candidates could render the impact on reform momentum somewhat similar and increase their ability to secure political alliances.”

      Scope’s view is that more moderate candidates are the most likely to either secure a standalone majority in the National Assembly or maintain a minimal level of reform momentum thanks to their presumed ability to build alliances with other political forces.

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