/ 02 July 2024

France’s rallying cry

Image source: Getty
Image source: Getty

The Squiz 

The results from Sunday’s first round of voting in France’s snap election for the National Assembly – aka lower house – delivered a resounding win for the far-right National Rally (RN) and a sombre message for left/centrist parties. Turnout soared to 67% – which is a lot for a country without compulsory voting – the highest since the 1997 parliamentary election. A coalition of socialist and far left-wing parties came in second with roughly 28%, while President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance came in third with about 20%. Macron has now called for a “broad” alliance against the RN in the second round, calling the group “an unacceptable threat against which we have to fight.”

What do the results mean?

Whether RN can win an absolute majority – increasing its current 88 seats to at least 289 out of the 577 total – is uncertain, but they look set to become the largest voice in the lower house. The National Assembly is the most powerful of France’s 2 houses of parliament, having final say in the law-making process over the Senate. As Macron has only held about 250 seats since the last election in 2022, he’s already been unable to achieve much of his political agenda, and it could be even harder with RN having influence. But there are wider concerns as an RN majority would mark France’s first far-right government since Nazi occupation in World War II, with stringent policies on slashing immigration, cutting welfare, and reduced support for Ukraine/the Europe Union. But even if RN can’t get a majority, France’s government could be paralysed, with little to no legislation being passed.

But it’s not done and dusted…

About 70 seats have been won outright but the rest are TBD after a runoff vote this Sunday. Whatever happens, Macron will remain President until 2027, and almost certainly be forced to appoint Jordan Bardella as PM if RN get a majority. Given their opposing views, it’s what the French call “cohabitation” – aka parliament would implement policies that clash with Macron’s agenda and Bardella’s warned he’ll be “uncompromising”. That has many concerned about the RN’s anti-immigration eurosceptic policies, with frontwoman Marine Le Pen aligning her views with Vladimir Putin. And France’s role as the EU’s top military power could spell trouble… Traditionally the President oversees foreign policy, European affairs and defence but that isn’t enshrined in the constitution so RN could use a majority to wield significant power – meaning all eyes will be on France early next week…

Know someone who'd be interested in this story? Click to share...

The Squiz Today

Your shortcut to being informed, we've got your news needs covered.

Get the Squiz Today newsletter

Quick, agenda-free news that doesn't take itself too seriously. Get on it.