Macron: The background to the decision on early elections in France

Emmanuel Macron is playing for everything with his decision to call early parliamentary elections in France


All things considered, Emmanuel Macron is gambling with his decision to call early parliamentary elections in France, which may bring new big gains to the far-right, but on the other hand may also remove Marine Le Pen's hope for the presidency in the 2027 contest. .

“It's not just gambling, it's audacity. "Usually the players who make such a move are because they don't have many cards left," comments Yves Bertonsini, an independent consultant on EU issues.

Analysts note that the spectacular victory of Le Pen's far-right National Rally in the European elections, and in fact with a percentage more than double that of the centrist group of the French president, as well as the wider rise of far-right populist parties across Europe, did not leave much room for Macron. For months now, the French far-right has declared itself "ready to govern" and demanded an appeal to elections if the President's faction loses the Eurocalp, with its main candidate, chosen by Le Pen, Jordan Bardela, even proposing to co-exist as prime minister with Macron .

And the French president did him a favor - spoiling his victory lap at the same time - by offering the Far Right the opportunity it wanted by betting that the parliamentary elections on June 30 and July 7 will brake Le Pen's progress. However, her party is closer than ever to power, with more MEPs and MPs in the National Assembly than at any time, and with opinion polls showing that the National Rally is also attracting support from new groups of voters.

The background to the Macron decision

Le Monde characterizes Macron's decision to dissolve Parliament and early elections as a "leap into the unknown", an idea the French president has been flirting with for six months, according to a source from the Elysee, cited by the French newspaper. which, however, began to mature in a meeting around May 20 in a Paris restaurant with "his three bodyguards", as Macron's friend, former right-wing Republican senator Pierre Sharon, Elysee Communications Director Jonathan Gemma, Bruno Roset-Petit's adviser and the vice-president of the French multinational advertising and public relations company Publicis, Clément Leonardoudzi.
Asked by Macron how they would organize the surprise and ahead of the 80th anniversary of D-Day celebrations, his aides compared the draft announcement that stunned the political world in France and Europe to the disinformation campaign of the Allied Forces, which they led the Nazi leadership to believe that the landing would take place at Pas-de-Calais, rather than Normandy. That is why Macron and his advisers told colleagues who insisted on the eve of the European elections that yesterday's result would not affect the political scene in France and that nothing could happen before the Olympic Games in Paris (July 26 to August 11). .

The "bodyguards" pointed out to Macron that a victory for his opponents in the European elections would whet their appetite even more and weaken him further, while stressing that even if Le Pen's National Rally wins the parliamentary elections, he himself as president does not intend to to resign, but his role will simply change.

According to Bloomberg, citing people with knowledge of Macron's reasoning, the French president made his final decision to dissolve parliament because of his experience at the D-Day events when he spoke to French voters, who told him that political life in France has become too aggressive. Macron sees the parliamentary election as an opportunity to change that and restore a stronger moderate majority.

The shock announcement of the French president

And so we arrived at last night's announcement to hold early elections on the eve of the Olympic Games, which surprised even many in Macron's faction and plunged the country into political uncertainty.

An hour after the announcement of the exit polls, Macron announced in his speech that he cannot continue "as if nothing happened" after the painful defeat of his faction.

"France needs a clear majority with peace and harmony. "Being French means, deep down, choosing to write history yourself, not dragging yourself away from it," he noted.

With his move, Macron attempted to reclaim the political narrative of the evening, turning the conversation away from the victory of the Far Right.

French MPs now have just one week to declare their candidacy.

"Macron responded to the shock [of the defeat] with a bigger shock, we are talking more about the parliamentary elections than the European elections," commented Arnaud Stéphane, a communicator on the French network BFM TV.

According to Mujtaba Rahman, head of European affairs at the Eurasia Group, Macron was headed for a political crisis later this year, regardless of the outcome of the election. "He knew early elections were coming and he wanted to take the initiative," he explains.

After Macron's alliance lost an absolute majority in the 2022 parliamentary elections, the French National Assembly has been underfunctioning with the French president's government relying on ad hoc deals with the Conservative Republicans to pass bills or pass bills by presidential decree, but in the fall the MPs will be asked to vote on the budget at a time when deficits are increasing and it is possible that the opposition could vote against and bring down the government.

Macron bets on the mound of the constitutional arch in the Far Right

As analysts explain, Macron's move aims at an uneven landing for Le Pen in reality, since the National Rally is unlikely to repeat the triumph of the European elections to such an extent in the parliamentary elections. And, although he is expected to secure more seats in the National Assembly, they probably won't be enough to be able to govern.

“It is almost certain that they will put the brakes on Le Pen because the basic assumption is that she will not secure a majority. I don't think Le Pen will do as well in the parliamentary elections, which are held in two rounds. A different set of voters will be mobilised,” says Rahman.

And the truth is that it is much more difficult in the French parliamentary elections for a far-right candidate to win a seat, since to achieve this he would have to secure 50% in the first round or face off in the second round with his opponent. In the European elections, citizens express their protest vote more strongly, while in the parliamentary elections traditional parties are historically favored, as voters from the Left and the Right rally around the candidate of the constitutional arc to close the way to the extreme right.

With the support of this constitutional arc, Le Pen's Macron prevailed in the second round of the presidential elections two years ago, only that after the rise of the Far Right in France, but also throughout Europe, nothing should be considered guaranteed anymore, comments Politico .

In the run-up to the polls, Macron will try to rally voters against the far-right, but it is possible that the National Rally could win a majority of seats in the National Assembly and force the French president to form a coalition government, which would give unprecedented powers to the far-right. .

France is in uncharted waters

Although Macron's bold decision changed the political narrative for the time ahead in France, the outcome of the early ballot is uncertain. "Usually after presidential elections, parliamentary elections give the president a strong majority, after his voters have been emboldened and the opposition is stunned. But who knows who will mobilize in these early elections?", asks political scientist of the University of Paris Pantheon-Assas, Benjamin Morel.

It remains unknown who will be more affected by the abstention, Macron's faction or Le Pen's, after the European elections. It is possible that the far-right National Rally will increase its seats in the National Assembly, but the question is to what extent. In the unlikely scenario that he secures more than the required majority, Macron will traditionally be forced to anoint a far-right prime minister, who will set government policies.

But even in this case, the possibility is not ruled out, as the eminent economist Olivier Blanchard explains, that Le Pen's Far Right in the government will do so badly that it will accept a good scenario of a lost two years for France compared to five years in case it prevails Le Pen in 2027.

The scenario with Le Pen as prime minister under Macron

How likely is the scenario that Macron entrusts Le Pen with the prime ministership? "It is possible, yes. I wonder if Macron is thinking this. If the National Rally is doing well, then he will prefer to have Le Pen as prime minister while he is still president.

So, when the presidential elections are held in three years, its luster will have been lost. He will have made mistakes and the voters will have seen them," says experienced British MEP Richard Corbett, who led the Labor group in the European Parliament.

But Le Pen is not politically inexperienced. If she is offered the post by Macron, she can refuse and hand over the baton to her chosen one, the 28-year-old Bardella. Thus she would help him behind the scenes, remaining unscathed herself from any political setbacks in view of her candidacy for the presidency.

If she wins, the ramifications for France and Europe will be huge, as Le Pen is determined to push through changes to the economy, immigration, climate change laws and limiting the role of the EU. But for now, France is facing an election showdown-referendum for Macron, which he called in a risky roll.