The french presidential election have certified what may be one of the great paradoxes of current politics and that is that in contexts of high polarization the political center may be favoured. Certainly, this statement must be qualified because the very nature of the presidential elections in France and the existence of a double-round majority electoral system has led to the concentration of vote in Macron in the second round. But the truth is that already in the first, the president, the centrist candidate par excellence, was the most voted candidate, followed precisely by three candidates who represented extremist options. Two from the extreme right, Marine LePen who came in second place and Eric Zemmourwho was in fourth at a great distance, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, one of the candidates of the extreme left who came in third position. The candidates of the traditional, conservative and socialist parties, on the other hand, obtained absolutely marginal results, especially Anne Hidalgothe socialist candidate and mayor of Paris who, with 1.74 percent of the votes, did not exceed the tenth position.
Most European political systems have historically been characterized by the existence of large parties linked to traditional ideological families. And although there are those who maintain that the ideological fact is not consubstantial to the political party, the truth is that, in Europe, only the parties linked to the great ideologies of modernity such as the liberalism, conservatism, socialism or communism, despite the fact that the use of the left-right dimension works as a cognitive shortcut that helps citizens to identify the distinctive features of each party, determine their political priorities and place the parties on a continuum based on their ideological position . For a long time the ideologies that have dominated the political scene have been conservative and socialist and in fact, after the last European elections, these forces continue to be the majority in Parliament. But these parties obtain their best results in contexts of centripetal competition, the recent elections in Germany and Portugal are very illustrative in this regard, where the socialists were in first position and the conservatives in second position, and they have more difficulties when there is a lot of polarization, as has happened in France and a centrist party appears. Especially for socialism.
And this is explained because, although polarization is very high, the perception and treatment given to the extreme left tends to be very different from that given to the extreme right. And the French case is very clear in this respect. The extreme right is subject to an iron cordon sanitaire -as the Communist Party once was- to the point that, at least until now -we will have to see in the June legislative elections- it barely has an institutional presence, only 7 of the 577 seats of the National Assembly. In contrast, Mélenchon’s extreme left is no longer seen as a threat to the Republic, nor is it perceived as the protesting and tribunitarian force that it once was. In fact, for many French people it is already a government-oriented force, and proof of this is that Mélenchon aspires to become Prime Minister after the June elections, concentrating the vote of the left and ecologist against a more fragmented right.
In this scenario, the socialists, who are experiencing their lowest hours after the humiliating defeat of the mayor of Paris, are going to have many difficulties. They are organizationally diminished, ideologically divided and some of their historical figures have supported Macron, without going any further than himself. Manuel Valls, who was a minister. Between a reinforced center and a digestible extreme left French socialism has run out of space, it can neither be centered nor can it be radicalized. It only remains for him, as he has already done successfully on several occasions, and as his first secretary Oliver Faure has announced, to try to refound himself. That and hope that Macron or Mélenchon fail and that they find their Pedro Sánchez.