‘People are terrified’: Here’s what could happen after Sunday’s legislative elections in France

‘People are terrified’: Here’s what could happen after Sunday’s legislative elections in France
‘People are terrified’: Here’s what could happen after Sunday’s legislative elections in France

Will the French open the doors of power to the far right or will they force their elected officials to compromise, at the risk of ending up with an ungovernable country? Everything will depend on what happens at the ballot box on Sunday, 2d round and behind-the-scenes games that the parties must play right now in order to form alliances. The newspaper interviewed three experts to analyze the possible scenarios at the end of this “explosive” election.

HOW IT WORKS?

In France, the roles of head of state (president) and head of government (prime minister) are the subject of two separate elections, the presidential and the legislative. The latter, which are currently underway, aim to elect the 577 deputies of the National Assembly. On 1is round, a candidate can be elected if he obtains an absolute majority. If no candidate obtains this majority in the 1is round, candidates who obtained at least 12.5% ​​of the registered votes can compete in the 2e tour. In any case, President Emmanuel Macron will remain in power, but the outcome of the vote will determine who he can appoint as prime minister. He could end up with a prime minister who is not on his side.

THE CASES:

1) A historical, but dreaded scenario

“What’s happening is huge,” says Thierry Giasson, director of the Political Communication Research Group and professor at Laval University. Last Sunday, the National Rally (RN) came out on top in the 1is round of voting. If Marine Le Pen’s party succeeds in electing 289 deputies, it will thus obtain an absolute majority of seats. This would be the first time since the Second World War that a far-right party has been in power in France.


Marine Le Pen with Jordan Bardella, who would be prime minister under a National Rally government.

Photo AFP

This scenario has however lost some feathers in the last few days. Indeed, more than 200 candidates from various parties who had arrived in 3e position au 1is tower and who could have competed in the 2d The three-way contestants have withdrawn, hoping to block the far-right party’s path through strategic voting.

If the RN does not obtain an absolute majority, but comes close (around 270 seats), it will still be possible for it to seek support from other right-wing parties with whom to form a government, without fear of being overthrown.

2) The failed bet of the “sorcerer’s apprentice”

President Macron is probably “biting his fingers,” supposes Julien Robin, a doctoral student in political science at the University of Montreal. Because if he dissolved the National Assembly on June 9, it was because he believed he could restore “electoral health” and a full complement of deputies, banking on the quarrels within the left and the fears aroused by the extreme right. However, his group “Ensemble pour la République” came in 3e place at 1is tour. Everything indicates that the scenario targeted by Mr. Macron will not happen and that his group will find itself with even fewer deputies than before.


French President Emmanuel Macron

Photo AFP

“Macron wanted to play the sorcerer’s apprentice in an explosive context,” illustrates David Morin, professor of applied politics at the University of Sherbrooke. “People are terrified,” also observes Thierry Giasson. On the left, some fear the RN’s possible policies, particularly those of anti-immigration. On the right, people fear that the election of a left-wing party means “the end of France, the massacre,” summarizes Mr. Giasson.

3) Most likely: a fragmented vote

According to the experts consulted, the most likely scenario is that of a fragmented vote that would lead to what is called “cohabitation.” This scenario can be compared to that of a minority government in Canada. A bit like Justin Trudeau’s Liberals who created an alliance with the New Democratic Party, French parties could play with negotiations to create a grand coalition with republican values ​​while excluding the more controversial parties. However, the outcome of this cohabitation would remain uncertain and negotiations between parties with major differences would be difficult.

4) A “technical” government in the meantime

If no party obtains a clear majority, President Macron also has the option of appointing a “technical government.” This team could be composed of senior civil servants or experts who would be responsible for handling current affairs while waiting for the next legislative elections.

This scenario seems unlikely, according to David Morin. “There is a lot of anger in France.” It would be paradoxical to call on voters to express themselves and then ignore the result of the vote, he believes.


Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella

Photo AFP

WHO ARE THE MAIN PLAYERS?

The extreme right

As president of the National Rally – formerly the National Front – Jordan Bardella, 28, could become prime minister. His mentor Marine Le Pen was elected as a candidate in her own constituency on 1is tour last Sunday. What she covets is rather the role of President of the Republic, explains Julien Robin.


Jordan Bardella, President of the National Rally

Photo AFP

The National Front was founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen, who was openly racist and anti-Semitic. In her de-demonization effort, his daughter Marine Le Pen also tried to have the far-right label associated with the party rejected. However, the Council of State ruled in 2023 that the party could indeed be described as “far right.”

The left block

Faced with the possibility that the extreme right might win, several left-wing parties quickly came together despite their disagreements to form the New Popular Front, a few days after the dissolution of the National Assembly. It brings together the Socialist Party, the Greens, the Communists and La France Insoumise. Only one candidate from this union is running in each constituency. It is still unknown who would be prime minister if they win.


Jean-Luc Mélenchon, from the radical left party La France Insoumise

Photo AFP

President Macron has, however, said that in the event of a coalition, the radical left party La France Insoumise (LFI) and its leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon would be excluded.

The centrist Macronist clan

Emmanuel Macron’s clan is united under the banner “Together for the Republic”. It is led by outgoing Prime Minister Gabriel Attal. It is this group that Mr. Macron hoped to have elected by a majority by triggering snap elections.


Gabriel Attal, outgoing Prime Minister

Photo AFP

The right divided

The right-wing party Les Républicains (LR) has been living a real psychodrama since its leader Éric Ciotti announced on June 11 that he wanted to ally himself with the National Rally. The president was excluded from his own party, which is now divided into two camps: those who are in favor of an alliance with the extreme right and those who reject it.


Eric Ciotti contests his exclusion from the leadership of the Republicans party.

Photo AFP

“French politics has been profoundly transformed by this election, which has taken everyone by surprise,” says Thierry Giasson. “The forces present have been completely transformed.”

With AFP, The worldBFMTv, France Info, Courrier international, TelegraphEurope 1 and Les Echos.

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