Tuesday 16th of July 2024

elimination rounds....

Marine Le Pen’s right-wing National Rally (RN) has topped the 1st round of France's parliamentary elections, winning 33.4% of the votes on Sunday. The New Popular Front leftist coalition came in second, securing 27.99%, while President Emmanuel Macron's center-right alliance Ensemble took third place with 20.04%.

President Emmanuel Macron’s center-right alliance Ensemble has been “practically wiped out” by Marine Le Pen’s right-wing National Rally (RN) in the first round of the snap elections to the National Assembly in France. That is how the leader of the French right-wing National Rally party's parliamentary faction referred to the results of the first round of the parliamentary elections. After the second round, the RN could clinch between 230 and 280 seats - a relative majority - in the 577-seat lower house, according to national TV calculations. It had but 88 seats in the outgoing parliament. Macron's coalition is projected to lose over 160 seats, potentially winning only between 70 - 100 seats.

France's National Rally party preliminarily wins the first round of the parliamentary elections with 34.5%, Macron's party is in 3rd place with 22.5%, according to Belgian media data. https://t.co/OvM3GXtMDU pic.twitter.com/3FpIrgotUe

— Sputnik (@SputnikInt) June 30, 2024

But there is still the second round of the voting to look forward to, on July 7.

So, here’s how the 2nd round of France's parliamentary election will work.

Three major political blocs are competing for seats in the National Assembly: the right-wing National Rally, French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance and the New Popular Front coalition.

According to the French multiparty system, in order to secure an absolute majority in the National Assembly, a party or bloc must obtain more than 50% of the vote, or at least 289 seats out of 577. Additionally, voter turnout must reach at least 25% in the first round of elections. During this round, any candidate who fails to garner the support of at least 12.5% of locally registered voters is eliminated from the race.


Who Goes into Round 2?

Legislators are elected by district, and in constituencies where no candidate wins outright in the first round, the top two candidates will proceed to a second round. Additionally, any candidate who received more than 12.5% of the total number of registered voters in that constituency will also take part in the second round.


What Political Maneuvering is Expected?

Approximately 300 constituencies may potentially be entering into three-way run-offs, with polls suggesting that many voters are leaning towards the RN party. Therefore, it is not unexpected that center-right and center-left politicians are planning to implement a tried-and-true strategy known as the "republican front." This tactic involves a third-party candidate withdrawing from the race and encouraging voters to unite behind the second-placed contender.

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal has already stated that Macron's centrist coalition will pull out around 60 of its candidates to allow other contenders have a chance to defeat the RN.

"We have made a decision that concerns more than 60 constituencies. It implies the withdrawal of our candidates. Their possible third place would lead to the victory of a lawmaker from National Rally over a candidate from another party who shares the values of the republic, as we do," Attal asserted on Sunday.

Candidates heading into the run-off have until Tuesday evening to decide whether to stand down.

Whoever gets the most votes in the second round wins the constituency seat.


voting socialist....

The leader of La France Insoumise (LFI, or France Unbowed) declared at the time: “There were sans-culottes – now there will be sans-cravates”, referencing the trouser-wearing 18th-century revolutionaries whose disdain for breeches marked them out as different from the aristocracy. 

Critics of the veteran Left-wing firebrand may have scoffed at all this, but it was classic Mélenchon: positioning himself as a man of the people, subversive, radical and anti-establishment. In an interview in 2010, he asked “Am I a populist? Yes I am!”



Emmanuel Macron on Monday urged ministers to back Left-wing candidates to block Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) partyfrom gaining power.

The French president told ministers that “not a single vote” should go to the “far-Right” as his party appeared split on tactics heading into this weekend’s final round of voting.



autocrat macron.....

French President Emmanuel Macron is undertaking a last-minute reshuffling in government agencies in order to prevent National Rally leader Jordan Bardella from governing as he wishes, former party leader Marine Le Pen believes. The RN is widely expected to gain a plurality in this Sunday’s runoff.

RN and its allies secured the lead in the first round of the snap parliamentary election last week, while projections in the French media anticipate the party ultimately winning between 230 and 280 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly. 

“It’s a kind of administrative coup d’état,” Le Pen told France Inter radio on Tuesday, commenting on press reports that claimed Macron was rushing to appoint senior civil servants, including to top EU jobs.

Over the past days, Macron reportedly appointed several top officials, including the military governor of Paris, the new chief of the General Staff of the French Air Force, the new director of the EU at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and three ambassadors. He also proposed in Brussels last week reappointing Thierry Breton as France’s European commissioner.

According to Le Pen, “the aim” of such appointments is “to prevent Jordan Bardella from governing the country as he wishes,” should the RN win a majority in Sunday’s runoff. Le Pen said that if her party came to power, it would reverse these appointments so it “could govern.” 

“When you want to counter the electorate’s vote, the results of elections, by appointing people of your own, so that they prevent you within the state from being able to carry out the policy that the French want … I call that an administrative coup d’état,” Le Pen concluded.

Macron called early parliamentary elections after the RN’s strong performance in last month’s European Parliament elections. The party formerly led by Le Pen and now by Bardella won 30 of the 81 French seats in the EU legislature.

The first round of early parliamentary elections was held on June 30. The RN and its allies came in first with 33.15% of the vote. The left-wing alliance New Popular Front took second place with 27.99%, while Macron’s Ensemble coalition garnered just 20.04%.



SEE ALSO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29wNAN94kZE



last vote?....

French voters face a stark choice when they head back to the polls on 7 July: do they want some type of coalition government with a centre of gravity to the left of the current one, or do they want to give the far right the keys to state power….

July 4, 2024 Cole Stangler  THE GUARDIAN


It was an impressive score for a coalition frantically cobbled together only three weeks ago. On Sunday, France’s broad leftwing electoral alliance, the New Popular Front, won about 9m votes, behind Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally (RN) but comfortably ahead of Emmanuel Macron and his allies.

As a result, French voters face a stark choice when they head back to the polls on 7 July: do they want some type of coalition government with a centre of gravity to the left of the current one, or do they want to give the far right the keys to state power for the first time since the second world war?

Whatever Macron was hoping for when he called the snap elections, this couldn’t have been it. His wild gamble relied on the assumption that leftwing parties wouldn’t unite – and they quickly proved him wrong. They agreed on a simple economic programme far more popular than what his floundering presidency has to offer: a rise in the minimum wage to €1,600 (£1,400) a month after social security contributions, more investment in public services and the return of the wealth tax. And they positioned themselves as defenders of France’s core democratic values, more effective opponents of the RN’s immigrant-bashing and race-baiting than the president and his allies.

Much will be made of the far right’s domination of rural France. The trend is real and shouldn’t be ignored. From the shores of Normandy to the Mediterranean coast, the brown-coloured wave rippling across the French heartland looks like something out of a US election, where the Republican party now sweeps county after county in much of the country.

But if you look more closely at the map, another France is there, too: cities such as Paris, Lyon and Toulouse, where the New Popular Front triumphed; working-class suburbs inhabited by large proportions of immigrants and their descendants who turned out to defend the promise of a diverse social democracy that guarantees their full rights as French citizens; pockets of rural France that still lean leftward, especially in Brittany and in the south-west, despite the RN’s historic gains. Young people also clearly turned out for the left: according to an Ipsos study, nearly half of those aged 18-24 cast ballots for the New Popular Front.

Given the painfully short campaign, the obvious internal tensions and the sheer level of hostility it faced from its foes, it’s remarkable that the New Popular Front even did this well. When compared with the first round of the last legislative elections in 2022, the left coalition actually increased its share of the vote by about 2.5 percentage points.

But it’s no mystery why the coalition didn’t do better. Over the past several months its parties were subject to vicious attacks from high-ranking Macronists including the president himself, who mocked a proposal from the New Popular Front to make it easier for citizens to change their gender. He also accused it of being “immigrationist”, an adjective used by the founder of the National Rally, Jean-Marie Le Pen, and which is still not in the French dictionary. Macron also warned against voting for “the extremes”, in effect equating the alliance with the National Rally. Although the president remains broadly unpopular, lines like these may have discouraged more moderate voters from casting ballots for the New Popular Front.

Meanwhile, under the control of the ultra-conservative billionaire Vincent Bolloré, media outlets such as CNews, Europe 1 and the Journal du Dimanche have drummed up support for the farright, bashing left-wing parties as identity-obsessed, police-hating and antisemitic. The New Popular Front needed three years to get its act together, not three weeks.

But its leaders know they’re not going to be able to win enough of the National Assembly’s 577 seats to form an absolute majority of their own. And when it comes to blocking the RN from doing just that, the ball is in the hands of the Macronists.

The president’s coalition is now grappling with a simple question: is it willing to support leftwing candidates to prevent the far right from governing or not? Under France’s legislative election rules, if no candidate wins a first-round majority, then all candidates who win support from at least 12.5% of registered voters qualify for the second round. Thanks to the exceptionally high turnout, several candidates could theoretically be on the ballot in more than 300 districts next Sunday. Such division would benefit the far right in the current balance of forces.

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So far, the line from the left coalition has been clear: to defeat the RN, it is planning to withdraw candidates who place third behind Le Pen’s party, which translates into a boost for the president’s coalition. This line has been embraced by everyone from the socialist Raphaël Glucksmann to the firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the left populist La France Insoumise.

Unfortunately, the reply from Macronists has been more vague. Some have admirably withdrawn from races or called to vote against RN candidates without condition, such as the minister of industry and energy, a leader of Macron’s youth movement and the minister of cities. Others, such as the former prime minister Édouard Philippe and the economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, have decided they’re ready to stand down in favour of candidates who accept France’s basic democratic values – but apparently that does not include La France Insoumise, the largest single force within the New Popular Front. The line from the prime minister, Gabriel Attal, and Macron himself, who issued a short statement on Sunday, appears to lie somewhere in the middle. They’ve called for broad unity against the RN, but their wording is open to interpretation about whether the pledge extends to La France Insoumise.

Any pledge that doesn’t unequivocally call to defeat the National Rally is a terrible mistake, but they still have time to correct it. Candidates have until Tuesday night to withdraw their presence from the second round.

On multiple occasions, France’s leftwing parties and voters have stepped up and defended French democracy from the dangers of Le Pen’s party. Macron owes his presidency to millions of French people who voted for him because they rightfully feared what a country governed by the RN would look like. Now it’s time for the centrists to return the favour – the very future of French democracy may well hang in the balance.

[Cole Stangler is a journalist based in Marseille and the author of Paris Isn’t Dead Yet]






unpopular policies....




Wildly unpopular policies, from increasing fuel taxes to pension reform, have turned much of the country against Macron. His approval rating has sunk to the lowest level since 2018, when protestors in yellow vests set fire to the streets of Paris. Facing enormous domestic discontent, Macron turned his attention to foreign policy hoping that support for Ukraine would bolster his image as a strong leader and defender of democracy.

But our data showed that Macron’s hardline stance on the Russia-Ukraine war failed to resonate with his constituents. He even suggested sending Western troops into battle, a proposal swiftly rebuffed by other NATO countries.

Our survey confirms that the majority of people in France are eager to end the war, even without an outright Ukrainian victory. In fact, when we asked Europeans whether NATO member countries should push for a negotiated settlement between Ukraine and Russia, “yes” answers were selected more than twice as often as “no” answers.

This was one area Macron hoped to outcompete Le Pen, whom he has accused of being beholden to Vladimir Putin. During her 2022 presidential run, Le Pen advocated for closer ties with Russia and pulling France out of NATO’s military command. But she has since softened her stance — and skillfully calibrated her party’s platform to public opinion. While Euroscepticism remains core to its nationalist agenda, National Rally now supports providing material aid to Ukraine, barring actions that might trigger a broader war. 

The silver lining for Macron is that he aligns with public sentiment on European defense more broadly. Our research shows his pitch for “strategic autonomy” resonates with a large majority of Western Europeans who believe Europe should take primary responsibility for its own defense while maintaining military ties with the U.S. through NATO.

Despite these challenges, Macron still has cards to play. The center-right European People’s Party, which holds the largest number of seats in the European Parliament, aligns with his vision. EPP leader Manfred Weber’s enthusiasm for extending the French nuclear umbrella across Europe provides a potential path forward. A strategic alliance focusing on common issues like security could serve as a bulwark against far-right influence at the EU level.

If forced to nominate a prime minister from Le Pen’s party — likely the 28-year-old Jordan Bardella — Macron’s domestic influence would be severely curtailed. Yet this constraint could provide an opportunity. With foreign policy in his purview, Macron has a chance to cement his legacy and impact on his continent’s future. 

Macron’s gamble could either reinvigorate the European project or hand power to those who would dismantle it. The irony is that Macron’s bold move to save his vision for European unity and strategic autonomy might be what destroys it.






Wolff Responds: French Elections Matter! (July 9, 2024)