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France's Legislative Elections

France’s Legislative Elections See Far-Right Defeat Amid Strategic Coalition Efforts

Paris, July 08, 2024, The Europe Today: Last month, in response to a decisive far-right victory over his centrist coalition in the European elections, French President Emmanuel Macron dissolved the National Assembly and called for a snap election. The subsequent legislative elections saw Macron’s camp struggling against a newly formed left-wing alliance and a resurgent far-right, securing less than 21 percent of the vote in the first round. This placed them behind the National Rally (RN), which garnered almost a third of the votes, and the New Popular Front (NFP), a left-wing coalition that achieved 28 percent of the vote.

The National Rally’s defeat in the final round can be largely attributed to the “Front républicain,” a French strategy where voters unite to prevent far-right victories. Following the first-round results on June 30, France Unbowed founder Jean-Luc Mélenchon announced that the NFP had a strategic plan to combat the far right.

Both Macron’s centrist coalition and the NFP urged their supporters to vote for better-placed political rivals to block the RN. As a result, over 200 candidates withdrew their candidacies between the first and second rounds to prevent the far-right from securing a majority.

The NFP emerged as the biggest winner of the night, securing between 177 and 192 seats, according to estimates. Although they did not achieve an outright majority, they won the largest share of seats.

Macron’s snap election was likely an attempt to take advantage of his opponents’ disarray following the European elections. However, the far-right Reconquête and centre-right Les Républicains parties quickly fractured over alliances with the RN, while the left swiftly unified behind a common political program promising significant changes to Macron’s policies.

The NFP’s program includes raising the minimum wage, lowering the retirement age, and capping prices on essential goods to address France’s cost-of-living crisis. These initiatives would be funded by reinstating the wealth tax and imposing a windfall tax on corporations to increase social spending.

Addressing a jubilant crowd at Paris’s Stalingrad square, Mélenchon called on Macron to allow the NFP to form a government immediately, asserting that the left was “ready to govern.” He praised the coalition for rising to the historic occasion and preventing the far-right from taking power.

Mélenchon pledged that the NFP would swiftly implement its primary economic policies by decree, mirroring the approach taken by Macron’s government after losing its absolute majority in the 2022 parliamentary elections. However, some on the left, such as centre-left politician Raphaël Glucksmann, urged caution and maturity in the coalition’s actions.

As France awaits the final outcomes, the nation stands poised for a potential shift in governance, driven by the strategic maneuvers of its political factions.