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2024 France Elections : Left-Wing Coalition Secures Most Seats but Falls Short of Majority

A coalition of the French left emerged with the most seats in Sunday’s high-stakes legislative elections, overcoming a far-right surge but failing to secure a majority. This result leaves France, a key member of the European Union and host of the upcoming Olympics, facing the prospect of a hung Parliament and potential political paralysis. This […]

A coalition of the French left emerged with the most seats in Sunday’s high-stakes legislative elections, overcoming a far-right surge but failing to secure a majority. This result leaves France, a key member of the European Union and host of the upcoming Olympics, facing the prospect of a hung Parliament and potential political paralysis.

This political uncertainty could impact markets, the French economy—the second largest in the EU—and have broad implications for the war in Ukraine, global diplomacy, and Europe’s economic stability.

President Emmanuel Macron had called for this election on June 9 after the far-right made significant gains in the European Parliament elections, stating that returning to the voters would provide “clarification.”

However, this move seems to have backfired. Official results released early Monday show that none of the three main blocs achieved the 289 seats needed to control the 577-seat National Assembly, France’s more powerful legislative chamber.

The New Popular Front, a leftist coalition, secured just over 180 seats, placing them ahead of Macron’s centrist alliance, which garnered more than 160 seats. Meanwhile, Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally and its allies, despite securing over 140 seats (their best performance since winning 89 seats in 2022), placed third.

A hung Parliament is unprecedented in modern France.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal acknowledged the “unprecedented political situation” as France prepares to host the world in a few weeks for the Olympics. He announced plans to resign later in the day but expressed readiness to stay “as long as duty demands.” Macron has three years left in his presidential term.

Attal openly criticized Macron’s decision to dissolve the outgoing National Assembly, where Macron’s centrist alliance was the largest group but lacked an absolute majority. The previous assembly managed to govern for two years by rallying support from other lawmakers to thwart opposition efforts.

The new legislature seems unlikely to offer similar stability. As Macron prepares to attend a NATO summit in Washington this week, France faces uncertainty over its next prime minister and the possibility that Macron may have to share power with a politician opposed to his policies.

Nonetheless, many celebrated the left’s success. Supporters gathered in Paris’ Stalingrad square and Republique plaza, cheering and hugging strangers as projections showed the leftist alliance ahead.

Marielle Castry, a medical secretary, described the joy on the Paris Metro when the results were announced. “Everybody had their smartphones and were waiting for the results and then everybody was overjoyed,” she said. “I had been stressed out since June 9 and the European elections. And now, I feel good. Relieved.”

The election had already redrawn France’s political landscape by galvanizing leftist parties to unite against Macron’s policies. This new alliance pledges to reverse many of Macron’s reforms, increase public spending, and take a tougher stance against Israel due to the war with Hamas.

Macron labeled the left’s coalition as “extreme” and warned that their economic program, involving significant public spending funded by higher taxes on the wealthy, could be detrimental to France, already scrutinized for its debt by EU watchdogs.

Despite Macron’s warnings, the left’s leaders immediately urged him to allow them the first opportunity to form a government and propose a prime minister. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a prominent leader of the leftist coalition, asserted that it “is ready to govern.”

Although the National Rally won more seats than ever, they fell short of their goal of achieving an absolute majority that would have given France its first far-right government since World War II. Far-right supporter Luc Doumont expressed mixed feelings: “Disappointed, disappointed. Well, happy to see our progression, because for the past few years, we have been doing better.”

After the National Rally topped the first-round vote last weekend, its rivals worked strategically to block its chances of outright victory by withdrawing candidates in many districts, leaving far-right candidates in direct contests against single opponents.

Many voters prioritized keeping the far-right from power, supporting its opponents even if they were from different political camps. Despite this, National Rally leader Le Pen, who is expected to run for the presidency again in 2027, stated that the elections laid the groundwork for “the victory of tomorrow.” She added, “The reality is that our victory is only deferred.” However, her older sister, Marie-Caroline, was defeated by a leftist candidate by just 225 votes in her district.

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2024 France ElectionFrench President Emmanuel MacronMarine Le PenTDG TheDailyGuardian