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Snap Elections Ahead: Macron’s Response to EU Elections in France

Although the EU election results were not surprising, with the party of the presidential majority coming in second, far behind the far-right RN, French President Emmanuel Macron decided to dissolve the National Assembly (lower house of Parliament) and call for snap elections. This entails the holding of the first round of legislative elections on June 30th, and the second on July 7th. The closing date for submitting candidacies is June 14th.

By calling the elections now, Macron aims to create a surprise effect, potentially hoping to gain for an advantage.

However, it is difficult to see how this situation can benefit the presidential majority during a period of momentum in favor of the far right RN. The RN, known for its top-down approach, will have no trouble in naming candidates. It will be much more challenging for the presidential majority’s party to do the same. The left-wing parties’ coalition will also struggle to organize and position itself favorably to win constituencies, given the confrontational situation they are currently in. The same can be said about the classic right, unless they decide to form an alliance either with the far right or with a part of the current presidential majority parties.

 

Three possible outcomes could result from these elections:

  • Victory of the Far Right RN: An outright win by the far-right able to form a government on their own and a potential cohabitation (i.e., situation when executive power, exercised by the President and the Prime Minister, is held by two political adversaries) with President Macron;
  • Victory of a Coalition: A coalition capable of deciding and governing together, led either by the presidential majority or the far-right;
  • No Majority or Coalition: A continued period of uncertainty with no clear majority or coalition formed.

The new National Assembly will be constituted outside of the regular session. A special session would take place starting from July 18th for a 15-day period.

 

EU Elections in France

Coming back to the EU elections, please find below the preliminary results of the European Parliament (EP) elections in France, leading to the election of 81 French representatives out of 720 seats (please note that the definitive results will arrive later tonight and could be game changing for the parties close to the 5% threshold). Voter participation in the 2024 EU elections has been the strongest ever since they have been held by universal suffrage, reaching 52.5%.

 

Final results:

Party Estimated vote (%) Seats projections
Rassemblement National (RN), part of the Identity & Democracy group 31.3% 30
Renaissance (presidential majority), part of the liberal Renew Europe (RE) group 14.60% 13
Parti Socialiste and allies (center left), part of the Socialists & Democrats group 13.8% 13
La France Insoumise, part of The Left group 9.9% 9
Les Républicains (conservatives), part of European People’s Party group 7.20% 6
Les Ecologistes, part of the Greens group 5.5% 5
Reconquête, part of the European ECR group 5.4% 5

 

As anticipated, the far-right Rassemblement National (RN), part of the Identity & Democracy group in the EP, is leading the race for the second consecutive EU elections, with 31.3% of the vote. This performance, significantly surpassing the 23% of votes they secured in 2019, could potentially make the RN one of the largest, if not the largest, national delegations in any political group within the EP.

The presidential majority’s parties, Renaissance, part of the liberal Renew Europe (RE) group, is trailing far behind at 14.60%, losing an estimated 9-10 seats in the EP. Nearly all major RE national delegations are likely to face a similar fate which should allow the French delegation to maintain their position as the leading force within their, nevertheless weaker, EP group.

Slightly behind the majority party, at 13.8%, comes the center left Parti Socialiste and allies, affiliated with the Socialists & Democrats group. Emerging as the leading force on the left, the PS is earning additional seats in the EP.

Fourth comes La France Insoumise, affiliated to The Left in the EP, which is also gaining new seats.

The French conservatives Les Républicains, members of the European People’s Party – have reached only 7.20% of the vote, losing seats in the EP.

The French Greens (far behind their 2019 results) and the new radical right list Reconquête, which should join the Eurosceptic European Conservatives and Reformists group, have each earned 5 seats.

 

What it means for France in the EU

During the previous post-EU elections negotiations of key EU top jobs, Emmanuel Macron played a significant role, being credited as the kingmaker. He installed German Christian-Democrat Ursula von der Leyen as President of the European Commission, and obtained a strategic portfolio covering the internal market, digital affairs and defense for French Commissioner Thierry Breton, along with securing the Council Presidency for Belgian liberal Charles Michel.

Macron is now in a weak position and could be even in a much weaker position if he loses the legislative elections. However, even in this scenario, foreign and, to a lesser extent, EU affairs remain within the scope of competence of the President.

The French President can still rely on France’s strategic importance in the EU, economically politically and demographically. The recognition he has earned as a defendant of a more integrated Union in sovereign domains such as defense, industry and economic affairs, could also add up to help him retain some leverage in the upcoming negotiations.

 

Macron is now in a weak position and could be even in a much weaker position if he loses the legislative elections. However, even in this scenario, foreign and, to a lesser extent, EU affairs remain within the scope of competence of the President.

 

Simultaneously, the prospects do not look any brighter for his peers in Council to assume a leading role in the negotiations either. Domestic issues have limited the German Chancellor’s ability to exert the same level of influence in EU affairs as it traditionally has, whereas other larger countries are caught up in fragile government coalitions (e.g., Spain, Poland) or are politically in the minority in Council (e.g., Italy).

In the longer term, France’s capacity to leverage the EU decision-making process will also heavily depend on domestic political developments, particularly whether the scenario of snap legislative elections becomes a reality.

A more comprehensive analysis of the whole EU elections results, and potential consequences will be provided in the coming week.

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