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Breakthrough of Populist Parties in the First Round of Legislative Elections: What Impact for the Press and Culture?

Jordan Bardella, Clémentine Autain, and Gabriel Attal from left to right

The results of the legislative elections on June 30 revealed a major reshaping of the French political landscape. The Rassemblement National (RN) took the lead with 33.14% of the votes, totaling 10,625,662 votes. The Nouveau Front Populaire (NFP) follows with 27.99%, surpassing the Nupes of 2022. The presidential camp is relegated to third place with only 20% of the votes. What would be the impact of the legislative elections on the press, media, and culture? We analyzed, in order of score in the first round, what the programs of the top three parties say.

Analysis of the Rassemblement National Program

The RN, under the leadership of Jordan Bardella, proposes radical reforms.

Among these, the privatization of public broadcasting. This measure would lead to the transfer of public television and radio to the private sector, and thus their near-disappearance as a public service. While this measure promises to reduce expenses, it could also lead to a reduction in the plurality of opinions. Indeed, many media outlets of various political affiliations remain largely subsidized.

As for fashion, creation, art, and culture, Marine Le Pen’s party is not very forthcoming. However, it focuses on "French civilization" by implementing "specific legislation targeting Islamist ideologies" (page 21). Additionally, it emphasizes Francophonie and built and natural heritage.

Analysis of the Nouveau Front Populaire Program

The NFP proposes profound reforms for the press and media (page 19). It aims to limit media concentration to prevent a few owners from dominating the media landscape. Media outlets convicted of incitement to hatred or attacks on dignity will be excluded from public aid. Furthermore, the NFP defends the independence of editorial teams from their owners. Finally, the public broadcasting service would benefit from "sustainable, transparent, and socially just" funding.

For art, creation, and culture, the NFP wants to increase the budget to 1% of GDP per year. Additionally, free admission would be extended to all national museums. Affordable rates would be guaranteed in public institutions, with regulation of prices in private venues. Finally, the status of intermittent workers would be improved with the creation of a new regime for artist-authors, offering increased recognition and protection.

Analysis of the Ensemble Program

The presidential camp’s program, although less specific, proposes initiatives aimed at influencing the media. They wish to ban social networks for those under 15 and promote secularism in schools. This is to combat fake news and online harassment.

As for culture, it is remembered that Emmanuel Macron once demanded the profitability of French films. Something that threatened the French Cultural Exception according to some. However, he also created the Pass Culture: an initiative offering 18-year-olds a credit to discover cultural activities.

But in this campaign, Ensemble is content to support local culture in rural areas with initiatives like the "spring of rurality."

Conclusion

The RN leading could radically change the media and cultural landscape. However, significant resistance is foreseeable. The cultural sector, being ostensibly left-leaning, could hinder the radical reforms of the RN. The coming weeks will tell.