The French begin voting in mainland France for a historic election

The French begin voting in mainland France for a historic election
The French begin voting in mainland France for a historic election

The French began voting on Sunday for the second round of the legislative elections, a historic vote in which the National Rally could emerge victorious, although there is great uncertainty over its ability to obtain an absolute majority in the Assembly and to be able to form a government.

In one of the polling stations in Rosheim, a small town of 5,000 inhabitants 25 kilometres from Strasbourg, the queue is already long.

“We are at a turning point in the history of the Republic”notes Antoine Schrameck, a 72-year-old retiree, ” anguish “ by the situation.

The same excitement is felt by Emilie, a 44-year-old civil servant. “I hope there will be a surge in participation, like in the first round. After I gave my vote, come what may.”.

The first political figures to vote were former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe (Horizons) in his stronghold of Le Havre in Seine-Maritime, the RN mayor of Perpignan in the Pyrénées-Orientales Louis Aliot and the outgoing LFI MP Alexis Corbière in Bagnolet in Seine-Saint-Denis.

Voters can go to the polls until 6:00 p.m. or 8:00 p.m. in major cities, when the first results will be announced.

76 deputies were elected in the first round and 501 remain to be designated.

Last Sunday, the French placed the National Rally – and its allies from LR – largely in the lead (33%), ahead of the left-wing alliance New Popular Front (NFP, 28%), and the presidential camp Ensemble (20%).

The mobilization is still expected to be strong with participation expected at the same level as in the first round where it reached 66.7%, something never seen since the previous dissolution in 1997.

The first results have been released in some overseas territories, results which in no way indicate a national trend.

In Guadeloupe, the two RN candidates qualified for the second round did not convert the test: the four outgoing independent and left-wing deputies regained their seats, with scores between 69 and 77.5% of the vote.

In Martinique, the four constituencies go to candidates from the New Popular Front.

In Guyana, the two incumbents supported by the NFP are strengthened, with Davy Rimane even totalling 100% of the votes, due to the lack of an opponent.

many withdrawals

A far-right government in France would be a first since World War II.

But the campaign between the two rounds was marked by the withdrawal of a large number of candidates from the Macronist camp and the NFP, in the name of a “Republican front” invigorated by the prospect of an appointment of RN president Jordan Bardella, 28, to Matignon.

In total, 130 NFP candidates and 80 Ensemble candidates withdrew, reducing the number of three-way contests from 306 to 89.

As a result of these withdrawals, the prospect of an absolute majority for the RN seems to be fading.

A few hours before the end of the electoral campaign on Friday at midnight and the start of a reserve period, several polls seemed to show a tightening between the three blocs (RN/NFP/Ensemble).

It is still necessary to note the fragility of these forecasts with, as the deputy president of Ipsos Brice Teinturier pointed out on Friday, a “fifty constituencies that are being decided by a hair’s breadth”.

Marine Le Pen judges, she, “serious” the chances of the RN “to have an absolute majority in the Assembly”considering that the projections in seats “are not an exact science”.

” To the wall “

Legislative elections: who will face the RN in the 2nd round? / Nalini LEPETIT-CHELLA, Sylvie HUSSON, Laurence SAUBADU, Paz PIZARRO / AFP

If this were not the case, a period of uncertainty and intense negotiations would open after the difficult elections for the parties and the country.

Will the National Rally, in a relative majority situation, manage to rally the votes it lacks to form an absolute majority?

Conversely, will the other parties succeed in forming an alternative majority, as several leading members of the majority have called for?

In this hypothesis, “Everyone will be somewhere at the foot of the wall to advance in the service of our fellow citizens” beyond “cleavages”said Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, ruling out the possibility of governing with the RN or LFI, who do not want to do so anyway.

The right does not seem to be very inclined to enter into a construction of this type for the moment. “There is no question of forming any coalition with anyone.”the former president of the LR group in the Assembly, Olivier Marleix, told AFP on Wednesday.

Environmentalists and socialists still seem undecided. Marine Tondelier (EELV) believes that “It will probably be necessary to do things that no one has ever done before in this country” in the absence of a clear majority.

But, for the head of the PS Olivier Faure, the next government “will not be able to impose itself”which will force us to seek majorities “text by text”.

Regaining, through the grace of the Republican front, his status as the best opponent of ” system “the RN has denounced in advance “shenanigans” intended to deprive him of power.

There remains the hypothesis of a technical government, like the one that saved Italy from the debt crisis in 2011.

French voters cast their ballots in the second round of legislative elections on July 6, 2024 in Montreal / ANDREJ IVANOV / AFP

Gabriel Attal has in any case declared himself available to ensure the continuity of the State. “as long as necessary”that is, to deal with current affairs while waiting for the formation of a new government. The question arises all the more since Paris will host the Olympic Games from July 26 to August 11.

“I think we are heading into a situation (…) which remains unstable, unprecedented, historic and extraordinarily difficult”Mr. Teinturier feared.

The end of the campaign, in a climate of great tension, was marked by attacks and violence against candidates and activists.

Faced with possible disturbances on Sunday evening, 30,000 police officers will be mobilized, including 5,000 in Paris.

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