Emmanuel Macron speaks to the press following his decision on June 9, 2024, to dissolve the Assemblée Nationale after the results of the European elections. Paris, June 12, 2024.

Will Emmanuel Macron be standing alongside a prime minister from the ranks of the far-right Rassemblement National (RN) as he presides over his eighth Bastille Day ceremony on July 14? In any case, the prospect of an absolute majority for the RN party had taken at the highes levels of government in recent days, even before the first round of parliamentary elections, held on Sunday, June 30. While officials in the Elysée reject the “spirit of defeat” and pretend to believe in the possibility of a “republican upsurge,” the French president is preparing for a cohabitation with a prime minister opposed to him.

Faced with the inexorable rise of the RN – and the collapse of his own party – Macron managed to convince himself that, in a face-to-face encounter with a far-right government, he could single-handedly open the eyes of RN voters and expose the inability of its leaders to govern. “He thinks that giving them half the power today will prevent them from having all the power in three years’ time [at the 2027 presidential election],” reported one of those who have spoken to the French president in recent days. “He’s going to present himself as th the archangel Gabriel slaying the dragon,” prophesied former Socialist leader Jean-Christophe Cambadélis.

On June 27, in Brussels, the French president announced his wish to see Thierry Breton reappointed as French EU commissioner. “It’s my wish, and I think [Breton] has the experience and qualities to do it,” he said at the end of the European Council, which was meeting to extend Ursula von der Leyen’s term at the head of the European Commission. Three days before the first round of parliamentary elections, the hasty announcement was “a way of pre-empting the post, which is of major importance for France,” pointed out a former European affairs minister.

Rushing through appointments

The very next day, Marine Le Pen denounced the maneuver, indicating that Jordan Bardella, if appointed as prime minister, would oppose the reappointment of Breton, as Breton had not, in her eyes, “defended the interests of France,” and the appointment was a “prerogative of the prime minister.” Article 17 of the Treaty on European Union stipulates that the Council of the European Union, made up of ministers, proposes the members of the Commission, in agreement with the Commission president. Once they have been approved by the European Parliament, the European Council, which brings together the heads of state, approves their appointment. The appointment of the French commissioner is therefore a responsibility shared between the president and his ministers.

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