Macron’s decision to shock elections is a high risk for France and the EU’s future

Raphael Glucksmann @rglucks1
Raphaël Glucksmann's Réveiller l'Europe won 14%, doubling its seats from 6 to 13.

“This is an essential time for clarification,” French President Emmanuel Macron said after he called shock legislative elections later this month. Macron admitted that the results of the European elections were grim for his government. Renaissance reduced its seats from 23 in 2019 to only 14! Lower house elections are scheduled for June 30, with a second-round vote on July 7.

Marine Le Pen‘s far-right National Rally (RN) received about 31% of the vote, a score however predicted by the polls. It increases its seats from 18 to 30. Macron’s party fell to 15%, a score that polls also indicated months ago. Thus, the decision to vote for the shock elections is not directly associated with the results of the European elections but is probably related to the negative image of the government.

The real surprise of these elections is the rise of the Socialist Party headed by MEP Raphaël Glucksmann. Réveiller l’Europe (Wake Up Europe) won 14%, doubling its seats from 6 to 13. Glucksmann accused Emmanuel Macron of playing a dangerous game with democracy and institutions.

Macron’s surprise decision represents a significant risk for France’s future. Macron, who lost his majority at the National Assembly in 2022, is taking a big risk, as a far-right majority will deprive the French President of real control over national affairs. Moreover, Le Pen’s party is tightly connected with Vladimir Putin‘s politics, and a far-right control of the National Assembly will put France’s, and, consequently, Europe’s, security at risk.

Le Pen and the new leader of the RN, 28-year-old Jordan Bardella, welcomed the French President’s decision.  

However, other parties also lost considerable power in these elections. The Ecologists (Greens) passed from 12 seats to 5, Les Republicains (an EPP party) lost 1% and two seats (from 8). Only the left-populist La France Insoumise increases its seats from 5 to 8.

The far-right rise

Marine Le Pen plans to contest the 2027 Presidential elections for the fourth time. President Macron, who is in his second term, cannot stand against her.

Bardella is a hard-liner. He ran an electoral campaign based on anti-immigration rhetoric, the rise of crime, and inflation. In addition, the RN backed the Yellow Vests Protests (Mouvement des gilets jaunes) protests in 2018 and the farmers’ mobilisations against the green politics of the European Commission.

The rise of the French far-right seats in the European Parliament is a significant issue for the Parliament’s work in the coming years, but not a critical one. It is still unknown with whom the party will form a Group, and thus, it remains to see the real strength of RNs in the Parliament. The party belongs to the Identity and Democracy group, but after the group experienced a recent crisis, Le Pen may opt for a new group or renovate ID.

However, the far-right environment has another contender. Eric Zemmour’s Reconquête! (R!), an ultra-nationalist party that became a member of Giorgia Meloni’s European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group earlier this year. Zemmour shares the leadership with Le Pen’s niece, Marion Maréchal, a politician who defends positions much more radical than the average ECR parties. Her Proud France (La France Fière) is expected to win 5.5% and increase its seats from 1 to 5.

The interest is now on the results of the national elections. Will Macron effectively change the political environment in France? Will the democratic parties erect a wall to the rise of the far-right?

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