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What to Anticipate From France's Second Round of Snap Elections

© AFP 2023 / FRANCOIS LO PRESTISupporters react as former president of the French right-wing Rassemblement National (RN) parliamentary group Marine Le Pen gives a speech during the results evening of the first round of the parliamentary elections in Henin-Beaumont, northern France, on June 30, 2024.
Supporters react as former president of the French right-wing Rassemblement National (RN) parliamentary group Marine Le Pen gives a speech during the results evening of the first round of the parliamentary elections in Henin-Beaumont, northern France, on June 30, 2024. - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.07.2024
Marine Le Pen’s right-wing National Rally (RN) has topped the 1st round of France's parliamentary elections, winning 33.4% of the votes on Sunday. The New Popular Front leftist coalition came in second, securing 27.99%, while President Emmanuel Macron's center-right alliance Ensemble took third place with 20.04%.
President Emmanuel Macron’s center-right alliance Ensemble has been “practically wiped out” by Marine Le Pen’s right-wing National Rally (RN) in the first round of the snap elections to the National Assembly in France. That is how the leader of the French right-wing National Rally party's parliamentary faction referred to the results of the first round of the parliamentary elections. After the second round, the RN could clinch between 230 and 280 seats - a relative majority - in the 577-seat lower house, according to national TV calculations. It had but 88 seats in the outgoing parliament. Macron's coalition is projected to lose over 160 seats, potentially winning only between 70 - 100 seats.
But there is still the second round of the voting to look forward to, on July 7.
So, here’s how the 2nd round of France's parliamentary election will work.
Three major political blocs are competing for seats in the National Assembly: the right-wing National Rally, French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance and the New Popular Front coalition.
According to the French multiparty system, in order to secure an absolute majority in the National Assembly, a party or bloc must obtain more than 50% of the vote, or at least 289 seats out of 577. Additionally, voter turnout must reach at least 25% in the first round of elections. During this round, any candidate who fails to garner the support of at least 12.5% of locally registered voters is eliminated from the race.
Marine Le Pen of  National Rally (RN) - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.06.2024
Right-Wing National Rally Tops 1st Round of French Parliamentary Elections, Macron's Coalition Third

Who Goes into Round 2?

Legislators are elected by district, and in constituencies where no candidate wins outright in the first round, the top two candidates will proceed to a second round. Additionally, any candidate who received more than 12.5% of the total number of registered voters in that constituency will also take part in the second round.

What Political Maneuvering is Expected?

Approximately 300 constituencies may potentially be entering into three-way run-offs, with polls suggesting that many voters are leaning towards the RN party. Therefore, it is not unexpected that center-right and center-left politicians are planning to implement a tried-and-true strategy known as the "republican front." This tactic involves a third-party candidate withdrawing from the race and encouraging voters to unite behind the second-placed contender.
French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal has already stated that Macron's centrist coalition will pull out around 60 of its candidates to allow other contenders have a chance to defeat the RN.
"We have made a decision that concerns more than 60 constituencies. It implies the withdrawal of our candidates. Their possible third place would lead to the victory of a lawmaker from National Rally over a candidate from another party who shares the values of the republic, as we do," Attal asserted on Sunday.
Candidates heading into the run-off have until Tuesday evening to decide whether to stand down.
Whoever gets the most votes in the second round wins the constituency seat.

What Post-Round 2 Scenarios Are Possible?

If a political party or alliance other than Macron's centrist alliance secures a majority, the president will be compelled to appoint a prime minister from that new majority. This scenario would lead to a power-sharing arrangement known as cohabitation. This sort of arrangement is projected to persist for the remainder of Emmanuel Macron's term, until 2027.
Under cohabitation, the French government could implement policies that diverge from the president’s stance.
Incidentally, it is not at all a done deal that Jordan Bardella - the French politician who has been the president of the National Rally (RN) since 2022 - would become prime minister. Under the constitution, it is Macron who decides who leads the next government.
Bardella himself has insisted that he will not become PM unless RN secures an absolute majority, saying: “I don’t want to be the president’s assistant.”
Meanwhile, RN campaign posters appear to suggest the likelihood of Bardella as prime minister.
In the history of France, the last such cohabitation (1997-2002) was under Jacques Chirac, with domestic policy issues effectively in the hands of the socialist prime minister Lionel Jospin, while the conservative French president dealt with matters of foreign and defense policy.
Irrespective of the outcome of the elections, Macron has vowed that he would not resign as president.
The French Senate (the upper chamber of the Parliament) - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.06.2024
Crunch Time: Understanding France’s Snap Parliamentary Elections
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