1st round of French legislative elections
13 June 2022
Yesterday took place the first round of the French legislative elections. The second round will take place next Sunday, June 19th.
The main forces facing off in the elections
- The presidential majority, formed by the President’s party, LREM, the centrist party Modem, and the center-right parties Horizons and Agir;
- A left reunited around the far-left party led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, in a pink, green and red alliance formed by the socialist party, the green party and the communist party;
- The populist far right led by its leader Marine Le Pen;
- LR, the party of the conservative right.
Raw elections results
- Ensemble (presidential majority); 25,2%
- NUPES (unified left): 25,2%
- RN (far right): 18,9%
- LR (conservative right): 13,7%
Reminder: rules on qualification for the second round
Members of Parliament’s lower house are elected following a two-round uninominal ballot (first-past-the-post system). Any candidate who obtains the vote of more than 12.5% of registered voters (as opposed to of the votes cast) qualifies for the 2nd round. Due to this ballot system, the raw election results are not symmetrically reflected in the seat projections for the second round, which is why Ensemble has a larger number of seat projections than NUPES.
Seat projections for the second round
- Ensemble: 255 – 295
- NUPES: 150 – 190
- RN: 50 – 80
- LR: 20 – 45
- Other: 10 – 17
The outcome of the first round did not give the sweeping victory expected or hoped for by the pro-Macron majority in place, following Macron’s reelection in what was relatively smooth sailing. For this, they have largely themselves to blame:
- First, by doing just about everything possible to ensure that there was no real electoral campaign and thereby deprive their opponents of any forum for expression, the majority deprived themselves, by this same token, of the space needed to engage with their voters;
- The leaders of the majority also committed quite a few communication missteps which may have rattled some of their voters or driven away hesitant or undecided voters;
- The presidential majority and the President himself have largely underestimated the political smarts and power of mobilization of far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, both in terms of his ability to unify the left around common candidates and to get voters out on voting day.
The outcome of the first round did not give the sweeping victory expected or hoped for by the pro-Macron majority in place. For this, they have largely themselves to blame.
The many remaining uncertainties make any projection about how things will unfold tentative at best. Round two of this election could in effect still hold some surprises in store due to the possibility that the rate of participation (and the level of mobilization of each of the opposing forces) may change, and to the last-minute deals (and dropouts from the race) between now and next Tuesday between the candidates and/or political parties. The individual reputation of the candidates is also a factor that could weigh more heavily on voters’ decisions in the second round.
A few heavyweights of the presidential majority find themselves in a difficult position before NUPES candidates for the 2nd round of legislative elections, in particular Amélie de Montchalin (incumbent Minister for Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion) and, to a lesser extent, Clément Beaune (incumbent Junior Minister for Europe) and Stanislas Guérini (incumbent Minister for Public Sector).
Based on this evening’s election results, the most likely scenario is that of a relative majority for the pro-Macron alliance which would make the President dependent on other strands within his majority (Horizons, the party of former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and the center-right party Modem headed by François Bayrou) to make sure he can count on a majority of votes in Parliament.
The individual reputation of the candidates is also a factor that could weigh more heavily on voters’ decisions in the second round.
- Coalition formed by the pro-Macron alliance (“Ensemble”) and parties/individuals coming from the right
- Consensus to be sought around a centrist political line with the participation of left- and right-leaning MPs;
- Prime Minister coming from the majority party (possibility that the recently appointed Elisabeth Borne will stay on) and of a government with multiple political lines;
- This situation would play out to the benefit of minorities within the majority, i.e., Horizons & Modem, because they would then be able to impose reforms or political decisions in exchange for their support.
- Ad hoc coalitions
- Majority formed on a case-by-case basis (by policies);
- Appointment of a PM stirring broad consensus and of a government with multiple political lines;
- Policy agenda based on the “lowest common denominator” principle.