Macron’s Gamble Backfires, Right-Wing Party Leads in First Round of Voting

In early June, President Macron called for snap elections after Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party did surprisingly well in EU elections. His reasons for calling the election, which he was not obliged to do, were mixed.


The president’s calculation seems to be that, at some point, he was likely to face an irresistible political demand for fresh parliamentary elections. He presides over a minority government, which has struggled at times to pass legislation and regularly had to resort to the use of a constitutional provision that allows bills to go through without a direct vote. Each time this exposes the government to a no-confidence motion. Since Mr Macron was re-elected in 2022 his governments have survived 28 such votes. Another was likely—although not constitutionally inevitable—to greet the next budget, which had been due to go to parliament in September. By dissolving parliament now, Mr Macron has at least made the choice his, and controlled the timing.

More than this, the French president is hoping for what an adviser calls a “moment of clarification”. Either the popular support for the rn is real, goes this argument, and in that case his party hopes to put its populist policies—on tax, immigration, energy—under proper scrutiny and to expose their contradictions. Or, the vote represents what the French call a mid-term ras-le-bol, or fed-upness, which would not survive at its current level when the stakes are about the daily government of France.


It’s true that Macron was probably going to face another vote of no confidence within a few months but in between now and then are the summer Olympics and a chance for voters to lose a bit of focus on politics. By dissolving parliament and calling the elections now, Macron was betting that he could nip this in the bud. He thought voters suddenly confronted with the idea of the National Rally taking control of the government would balk and move back toward the center, i.e. back toward his party. After all, there hasn’t been a right-wing party in power since World War II (though there have been center-right parties in control).

But it now seems clear that Macron’s gamble backfired. The first round of voting was held Sunday and the National Rally got about a third of the vote, while Macron’s party came in third.

According to official results released by the country’s interior ministry early Monday, Marine Le Pen’s party and allies led the way with 33% of the vote, a bloc of left-wing parties followed in second with 28% and Macron’s centrist alliance trailed in third with just 20%.

Turnout was unusually high, adding to the sense of volatility. Nearly 60% voted, compared to 39.4% in 2022, according to the latest turnout numbers released by the interior ministry…

“The lesson is that the extreme right is at the gates of power,” Macron’s prime minister, Gabriel Attal, said in an address to the nation as the results became clear Sunday night.


This was the first round of voting and it’s not clear that the National Rally can put together enough support to win a majority of seats in the National Assembly by next week when the second round takes place. If it can’t win an outright majority of seats then some sort of power-sharing arrangement will need to be made, i.e. Macron may have to appoint a new Prime Minister from the National Rally to effectively share power with his party. However, a newly named Prime Minister could also face a no-confidence vote which could leave France without a PM for the next year.

If there is no majority, Macron will be tasked with naming a prime minister from the parliamentary group with the most seats in the National Assembly. The prime minister serves as head of government and oversees much of the day-to-day domestic policy, while the president has control over foreign policy.

But the contentious composition of the government could turn this into a tumultuous process — a prime minister candidate can risk being overthrown through a no-confidence vote if other parties join together. France could be left without a prime minister as political parties jockey for power.

“Either we have no government, a technocratic government, or we haggle for months over who should be prime minister,” de Bendern said. “A year and one day after the dissolution of Parliament, Macron can call new parliamentary elections, so we will have a year of chaos.”


Whatever happens in the next round of voting (on July 7), this all looks pretty bad for President Macron who will remain in office until 2027. While the country battles over who will be Prime Minister, he and his diminished party may have a lot less influence. We’ll have a better idea where all of this is headed next Sunday but at the moment it looks like his snap election gamble backfired.



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