Macron’s Hail Mary: Can He Stop the Far-Right’s Rise with Snap Polls?

Macron calls snap elections in a high-stakes gamble to stop the far-right's rise after their surprise victories in the European Parliament elections.

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Frontier India News Network
Frontier India News Network
Frontier India News Network is the in-house news collection and distribution agency.

French President Emmanuel Macron, deeply affected by the far-right’s sweeping victories in the 720-seat European Parliament elections on Sunday, June 9, 2024, took the unprecedented step of announcing early national elections. This move has only intensified the uncertainty surrounding Europe’s future political landscape, underscoring the gravity of the situation.

Both the European Parliament and the European Council, an intergovernmental body, are responsible for making decisions about the rules that govern the 27-country bloc, which has a population of 450 million.

The pro-European center-right, center-left, liberal, and green parties, despite their expected majority with 460 seats, are facing a significant decrease from their 488 seats in the outgoing 705-member parliament, as indicated by the exit poll. This decline poses a challenge to their influence and policies within the European Parliament.

The Green parties in Europe, in particular, experienced substantial losses, as they were able to retain 53 seats in the new parliament, a decrease from 71.

The vote dealt a domestic blow to the leaders of both France and Germany, raising concerns about how the European Union’s leading powers can implement policies within the bloc.

In an attempt to reestablish his authority, Macron scheduled parliamentary elections, with the initial round scheduled for June 30, 2024.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, like Macron, also experienced a difficult night as his Social Democrats achieved their worst-ever result, falling prey to the conservatives and the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD).

The shift of the European Parliament to the right, as evidenced by the election results, could potentially impede the passage of crucial legislation to address security challenges, the effects of climate change, or industrial competition from China and the United States. This situation underscores the potential consequences of the election outcomes.

Nevertheless, the actual impact of the Eurosceptic nationalist parties will be contingent upon their capacity to resolve their differences and collaborate. They are currently divided between two distinct political factions, with certain parties and legislators remaining outside these groupings.

Macron’s Gamble

Macron’s decision is a major gamble as it could result in even more substantial losses for his party. Macron presented this as an existential decision for French voters: Do you truly desire to be governed by the far-right?

Marine Le Pen, the nominal leader of her party and a presidential candidate, expressed her approval of this decision, which is consistent with the institutions of the Fifth Republic. She stated that the party is prepared to take on power if the French populace has faith in her party during the forthcoming legislative elections.

The elections could make the remainder of Macron’s presidential tenure more difficult and potentially grant rival ‘Rightist’ Marine Le Pen more power.

It appears to be difficult to believe that Macron anticipates achieving a majority. His popularity has been progressively eroding.

Nevertheless, according to the majority of analysts, Marine Le Pen’s far-right party is unlikely to secure a majority despite the fact that it may obtain more deputies. Consequently, the upcoming European Parliament maybe even more fragmented and ineffective than the current one.

The Upcoming Elections

Presidents are permitted to dissolve the National Assembly pursuant to Article 12 of the French Constitution in order to resolve political crises, including persistent and irreconcilable differences between the executive and the parliament.

Within 20–40 days of the assembly’s dissolution, voters must be called upon to the polls. The initial round of these elections is scheduled for June 30, with the subsequent round scheduled for July 7. Macron will experience an especially demanding period during this period, as Paris is scheduled to host the Olympic Games at the end of July.

In 1962, 1968, 1981, and 1988, the French presidents dissolved parliament, resulting in the head of state facing an opposing majority in the assembly. This was due to the fact that the presidential term was seven years, while the parliamentary term was only five.

This has not always been advantageous to them. In 1997, President Jacques Chirac, who was then center-right, held early legislative elections, only to have the left secure a majority. Consequently, he was left with five years of “cohabitation.”

Since then, no president has dissolved parliament, in part due to the fact that presidential and parliamentary mandates were synchronized in 2000. Consequently, voters have granted each new president a parliamentary majority—until Macron’s reelection.


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