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New election: Fateful election: France votes on parliament

New election: Fateful election: France votes on parliament
New election: Fateful election: France votes on parliament

The decisive second round of voting in France has begun. Will there be a political earthquake and a government of right-wing nationalists? In the end, there could be hardly any winners, but many losers.

The eagerly awaited parliamentary elections in France have entered the decisive round. The polling stations opened at 8 a.m. this morning. The French are voting on the majority in the National Assembly. But above all, everything revolves around the question: has President Emmanuel Macron paved the way for the right to power with the surprise new election?

The latest polls do not predict an absolute majority for the leading Rassemblement National (RN) of Marine Le Pen. According to them, the right-wing nationalists and their allies would win 205 to 240 seats. This would make them the strongest force in the National Assembly for the first time, but they would fall well short of the absolute majority of 289 seats.

In second place is the new left-wing alliance formed for the early parliamentary elections, consisting of the Greens, Socialists, Communists and the Left Party. According to the polling institutes, President Emmanuel Macron’s center camp must expect a humiliating defeat, coming in third in the polls.

Macron under pressure

So far, there is no sign of a majority capable of forming a government. Regardless of the outcome of the election, the current government of Prime Minister Gabriel Attal is expected to remain in office as a caretaker for a few more days until there is clarity about the formation of a future government. However, that could take some time – the situation is more complicated than it has been for a long time.

If the RN wins an absolute majority, Macron would be under political pressure to appoint a prime minister from the ranks of the right-wing nationalists – such as RN leader Jordan Bardella – for the first time. That would be a turning point in the country’s history and would also have major implications for European politics.

This would mean that there would be so-called cohabitation in France for the first time since 1997. This means that the president and prime minister represent different political directions.

Conservatives could be kingmakers

If the RN has a strong relative majority, it is expected that it will try to attract more members of the bourgeois-conservative Républicains (LR) to its side in order to gain decision-making power in parliament.

The former People’s Party split in the run-up to the election. Its leader, Eric Ciotti, had agreed to cooperate with the RN without his party’s consent, but only a small number of MPs followed him. The question now is how the other MPs, who received around ten percent of the vote in the first round, will behave.

Impending standstill

It is currently unclear how things will continue in France if the alliance against the RN actually works. Since the seats in parliament are allocated according to the majority voting system, the candidates from the other parties who came third in the first round in over 200 constituencies have withdrawn so that the chance that the remaining candidate from a bourgeois party will beat the candidate from the right-wing nationalists is increased. This is not the first time that such a protective wall against the extreme right has been practiced in France. It is unclear whether it will lead to a viable government.

The other camps – including the resurgent Socialists – have already made it clear that they do not want to govern together in some kind of national coalition. In that case, the current government could remain in office as a transitional government or a government of experts could be installed.

After the president’s power play with the early parliamentary elections, the Macron coalition could be left in ruins and only have a greatly reduced number of members in parliament. A government without a majority would not be able to launch new projects. France is therefore threatened with political stagnation.

After Le Pen’s Rassemblement National won the European elections in early June, Macron dissolved the National Assembly and announced new elections. The National Assembly is one of two French parliamentary chambers. It is involved in legislation and can overthrow the government by means of a vote of no confidence.

In the first round of voting, however, as in the European elections, the right-wing nationalists were in the lead, followed by the new left-wing alliance and Macron’s centre-right camp in third place. 76 of the 577 seats have already been allocated, most of them for the RN (39) or the left-wing alliance (32) – in the remaining constituencies, the decision will now only be made in the run-off election.

Source: Stern

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