With just three days to go until France‘s landmark legislative election, far-right politician Marine Le Pen on Thursday raised the question of who would be in charge of the military if her party takes over the govt after the two-round balloting.
The early elections are plunging France into uncharted territory, and political scientists are scrambling to interpret how exactly Prez Macron and a PM who is hostile to most of his policies will share power if Le Pen’s National Rally wins majority in the National Assembly. Macron has three years to serve out his term as prez.
Le Pen has repeatedly said that Jordan Bardella, her protegee, will lead France’s next govt if their party wins. She suggested in an interview that Bardella, 28, will also take over at least some decisions on France’s defence and its armed forces. “Serving as a commander-in-chief of the armed forces is an honorary title for the president since it’s the PM who actually pulls the strings,” she said.
France’s constitution states that “the President of the Republic is the head of the armed forces”. However, the constitution also states that “the PM is responsible for national defence.” Constitutional experts say the exact role of PM in foreign policy and defence appears to be subject to interpretation. Historian Jean Garrigues said “the president is the head of armed forces, (but) it’s the PM who has the armed forces at his disposal”. In practice, he said this means that “if the prez decided to send troops on the ground to Ukraine, the PM would be able to block this decision.”