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The National Assembly: the ghosts of 1997 poised to re-emerge in case of dissolution

Emmanuel Macron is credited with wanting to dissolve the National Assembly in order to regain the absolute majority. Which revives the memory of precedents that are not always happy.

The dissolution of the National Assembly, there will never have been as many questions as this week. The revelation in the JDD of November 6 that the Head of State would prepare his mind for this eventuality and that his party would have already drawn up a detailed battle plan helped fuel the issue.

Two scenarios

Even though the idea has floated in the air since it was acquired that Emmanuel Macron would only benefit from a relative majority in the National Assembly. According to Le Monde of November 11, it was even envisaged to immediately dissolve the re-elected head of state to take advantage of a “spirit effect” after the victorious presidential election. But it was therefore decided to respect the election calendar and not to shorten the deadlines, which could have been perceived as gross manipulation.

Because two scenarios apply in the event of dissolution, which according to the Constitution is the sole prerogative of the President of the Republic. Either it is a dissolution after a vote of no confidence, which would have brought down the government (a single precedent during the Fifth Republic in 1962). Either a dissolution decided by the head of state because he considers his action blocked, or prevented.

Salt note in the region

This, for example, was the option General de Gaulle chose after the events of May 1968: a triumph, his party, the UDR, obtained an absolute majority on its own. Same election for Jacques Chirac in 1997 (advised by Dominique de Villepin), but the initiative turned into a failure: while he enjoyed an abundance of majority, the majority left rolled his camp and forced him to live five years of cohabitation.

In the former Languedoc-Roussillon, the bill turned out to be particularly salty. In Aude, the left removed the three seats that the right had taken away in 1993. Grand slam itou in Hérault (seven out of seven, four outgoing right wing defeated) or in Gard (five out of five ). The (then) RPR mayor of Villeneuve-lez-Avignon, Jean-Marc Roubaud recalled this week: “I was struck in a triangle with the PS and the FN. On arrival, yes, this dissolution was a mistake. But all the polls gave us winners…”

Rather in 2024?

“François Bayrou had sent me to this constituency in Nîmes three weeks before the first round,” says Yvan Lachaud (UDF at the time). Which is also indulgent in the end: “But it wasn’t a dissolution of the beginning of the mandate, it could seem legitimate. The idea before, at least, already wandered in people’s heads.”

Wouldn’t that be the case today? This is what the majority deputy Patrick Vignal (Renaissance) thinks: “If there was a resolution to let the majority put its program in place, it should be done. But the opinion polls, the street, tell us that in the event of an election, we would end up with the same three blocks. A resolution could pass for a whim. Park against, in 2024, after the Europeans and the Olympic Games, after showing the French what we could do, yes, it would be possible.”

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