French Rivals Seek to Halt Right-Wing Party’s Electoral Surge

July 1, 2024 by No Comments

France’s political landscape is shifting dramatically as rivals of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party are rallying to prevent them from gaining a majority in the National Assembly. The first round of elections saw Le Pen’s party secure a commanding lead with roughly 33% of the vote, potentially paving the way for France’s most conservative government since World War II. The strong showing came after a high voter turnout of nearly 68%. The New Popular Front, a leftist alliance, came in second with about 28%, while Macron’s centrist group secured third place with around 20%, according to data from the Interior Ministry. 

“The French have almost wiped out the ‘Macronist’ bloc,” Le Pen declared Sunday evening, interpreting the results as a sign of the electorate’s desire for change after seven years of what she considers a “contemptuous and corrosive” regime.

In response to the National Rally’s surge, the left-wing coalition announced they would withdraw their candidates in districts where they finished third to support candidates opposed to the right-wing party. Macron’s centrist alliance also indicated that some of its candidates would step down before the runoff elections to counter the National Rally’s momentum.

 

Initial results indicate that 78 of the National Assembly’s 577 seats were secured outright in Sunday’s voting, with candidates achieving more than 50% of the vote in their respective districts. This includes 38 seats won by the National Rally, including Le Pen’s own. 

While polling projections suggest the National Rally will hold the most seats in the next National Assembly, the more powerful of France’s two houses of parliament, it remains uncertain whether they will secure an absolute majority of 289 seats out of 577, according to the Associated Press.

The elections take place as many French citizens grapple with inflation, low incomes, and a sense of being left behind by globalization. The AP reported that Le Pen’s party, which blames immigration for many of France’s problems, has capitalized on this voter frustration and built a nationwide support network, particularly in smaller towns and farming communities that perceive Macron and the Paris political class as out of touch.

 

If the National Rally, or another political force besides Macron’s centrist alliance, gains a majority, Macron will be compelled to appoint a prime minister from the winning majority. 

This scenario, known as “cohabitation” in France, would result in the government implementing policies that potentially deviate from the president’s agenda. 

Earlier this month, Macron dissolved parliament and called for a surprise election after the National Rally dealt a heavy blow to his party in the European Parliament election. This move was seen as a risky gamble, betting that French voters, likely complacent about the European election, would be motivated to support moderate forces to keep the National Rally from taking power.

Le Pen has called upon voters to grant the National Rally an “absolute majority” in parliament. She asserts that a National Rally majority would enable the right to form a new government, with party President Jordan Bardella as prime minister, to work on France’s “recovery.”

While Macron has maintained that he will not step down before his presidential term ends in 2027, a cohabitation scenario would diminish his influence both domestically and on the international stage.

’ Bradford Betz and