Leftist Gains Shake Up Europe and Iran Amid Economic Discontent

Leftist Gains Shake Up Europe and Iran Amid Economic Discontent

Recent elections in France, Britain, and Iran have marked large victories for leftists and reformers. But for all that, say analysts, the successes will only momentary retard the right's momentum.

A far-left alliance has come out first in France's legislative polls, pushing the far-right into third place, while President Emmanuel Macron's centrist alliance comes second. While this was juridically a gigantic disappointment for far-right firebrand Marine Le Pen and her National Rally, alternatively this equally reflected the public anger against Macron. That is, according to Mujtaba Rahman of Eurasia Group, a "crisis delayed, not averted," given that such a fragmented political scenario will further weaken France's leverage on the world stage.

The general election saw Keir Starmer of the Labour Party winning by a landslide, taking 412 out of 650 seats in the Lower House. After 14 years, the Tories thus lost power. They lost their grip so badly that this is going to be their worst defeat in 190 years, with only 121 seats now held by them. Labour may have won with an overwhelming majority, but the political situation remains fluid. Reform UK, the insurgent far-right party led by Nigel Farage, captured 14 percent of the vote and looks to become the main opposition.

In Iran, following the death of hard-line judge Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash, lawmakers elected Masoud Pezeshkian, a reformist MP, as president. His election heralds a turn toward moderation, but Pezeshkian and any other future leader will be handicapped by the supreme authority of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and that of the powerful Revolutionary Guard. The low turnout at the polls and limited range of candidates reflect how small Iran's political aperture remains.

Chatham House's Robin Niblett is just one of many analysts who points to a broad-based alienation about how Europe's governments managed economic issues. For Niblett, this rise of the left is less a sea change than a moment of political instability where pragmatism still holds sway if these parties can find ways to renew themselves.

Experts, like Philippe Marlière from University College London, have postulated that the political instability in France could offer an avenue for a political comeback by the National Rally. On a very related note, according to Rob Ford at the University of Manchester, what produced the electoral outcomes here was mainly driven by the voters' dissatisfaction, driven by economic difficulties, often shadowing ideological considerations.

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