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Legislative elections in France: the left comes out on top, RN wave limited, France without an absolute majority
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Sun 07/07/2024 – 22:32

A bolt from the blue: the left-wing alliance of the New Popular Front came out on top in the second round of legislative elections on Sunday, ahead of the Macronists and the National Rally, whose progress has been largely curbed, according to initial estimates which do not show any majority to form a government.

The “Republican front”, built between the two rounds of this election to limit the RN wave which was to sweep through the chamber of the National Assembly, therefore seems to have borne fruit, after 210 withdrawals by candidates from the presidential or left-wing camp.
With 172 to 215 deputies according to the first estimates from the Ifop and Ipsos institutes, the New Popular Front could become the leading political force in the Palais Bourbon, an increase compared to the 151 elected in 2022 under the banner of Nupes.

Another major surprise: the resilience of the Macronist camp, credited with 150 to 180 deputies. This is certainly 80 to 100 seats fewer than two years ago. But the gamble of dissolution launched by Emmanuel Macron a month ago, on the evening of a heavy defeat in the European elections (14.6%), could have ended in a much more significant rout.

At the RN, the feeling is inevitably one of disappointment. Certainly, the party with the flame and its allies are garnering new elected officials at a historic level, with 120 to 152 deputies, compared to 89 in June 2022. But it sees the dream of hoisting Jordan Bardella to Matignon evaporate, carried by an absolute majority that seemed achievable on the evening of the first round. An expected victory that was to pave the way for Marine Le Pen to conquer power with a view to the 2027 presidential election.

This tripartite division, however, throws France into the fog, at the end of an election which strongly mobilized voters with a turnout of 67%, the highest since 1997. Because without reaching the bar of 289 deputies, or even getting close to it, no bloc seems able to form a government alone.

While waiting for the consolidated figures, the positions taken by the major leaders and the intense negotiations to come, several scenarios, all unprecedented under the Fifth Republic, are emerging.

Unprecedented coalition in sight?

Will the left-wing parties and the Macronist camp find an improbable political agreement, after two years of fighting tooth and nail against the pension reform and the immigration law?

What place in the next system for Jean-Luc Mélenchon's La France Insoumise, whose supremacy on the left could now be challenged by a reinvigorated Socialist Party? Will the union of the left, which seems so fragile, survive this election?
The question also arises of the strategy of the Republicans (LR), plunged into turmoil after the rallying of their leader Eric Ciotti to the RN but who retain a contingent of elected officials more than sufficient (57 to 67) to present themselves as a pivot in the Assembly.

Three weeks before the opening of the Olympic Games, which will propel France into the world spotlight, the country could also move towards the possibility of a technical government, like the one that saved Italy from the debt crisis in 2011. On condition that a consensus can be reached on personalities.

In such unclear conditions, Emmanuel Macron could also be forced to temporize while his current Prime Minister, Gabriel Attal, has declared himself available to ensure the continuity of the State “for as long as necessary”.

The head of state, who took his traditional walkabout on Sunday in Le Touquet after his vote, has emerged weakened from this month-long sequence, despite his camp's honourable result. He who had dissolved in the name of a necessary “clarification” will not have been able to produce a clear majority at this stage. And the lightning campaign for the legislative elections will have taken place in a tense atmosphere, marked by numerous attacks on candidates and activists, revealing a France on edge and divided.

“Burst the abscess”

But will he have “succeeded in bursting the abscess” of the RN, as one of his close friends hopes? And will he manage to preserve the unity of his own majority while the 2027 deadline is already looming, for which several big names, starting with former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, have high ambitions?

Expected at the NATO summit on Wednesday, Emmanuel Macron will in any case have to work to reassure partners and financial circles about France's stability.

While he brought together the majority leaders as usual on Sunday late afternoon at the Elysée, the president's entourage indicated to AFP before the first results that there was “no speech envisaged at this stage” after the vote.
The coming week will also produce its share of tough negotiations for key positions in the Assembly, before the opening on July 18 of the 17th legislature of the Fifth Republic, which will begin with the election of the presidency, then the constitution of political groups.
While 76 deputies were elected in the first round last Sunday, the other 501 will be able to return to school from Monday 2:00 p.m. at the Assembly to collect their welcome kit, including the tricolor sash.

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