French Legislative Elections: All You Need To Know

After electing Macron as its president JUST LAST MONTH, France is now being called to vote for its National Assembly – the lower house of the French bicameral Parliament. The vote will decide whether Macron will be able to obtain a working majority.

Electoral System

There are 577 seats up for contention, one from each constituency. The election takes place in two rounds, each applying a first-past the post system. To win during the first round, which will take place on 11th June, candidates will need to obtain the absolute majority of votes – more votes than all their opponents’ summed.

If none of the candidates manage this, which is usually the case, then all of those who have obtained 12.5% or more of the valid votes proceed to the second round, which will take place on 18th June. During this second round, the candidate with the relative majority of the votes will be elected as member of the National Assembly.

 

Main Parties

France is a country with a very wide array of parties, however there are some which have historically had more relevant than others. The Socialists and the centre-right Republicans have been alternating in running the country since the 1950s. However, with the last presidential elections it has become obvious that they have failed in re-kindling any enthusiasm in voters.

Instead, it has been the far-right Front National led by Le Pen and two new parties who have monopolised the scene. This year, French politics have been shaken up by Macron’s new radical centrist party – running in the elections as La République En Marche ! – which aims to transcend the traditional left/right distinction and alligns with liberalism both economically and socially. Moreover, also the left-wing has seen the birth of a new socialist party: La France Insoumise, founded by presidential candidate Mélenchon.

 

Issues of European Relevance

These elections are set to have an unprecedented weight in European geopolitics and especially in domestic EU politics. If Macron were to gain a working majority, with or without the support of other minor parties, it would guarantee that the much awaited overhaul of the EU could go ahead with the blessings of the French Parliament. Because of France’s considerable weigh in the EU as one of the founding members and key member State, a strong, united front in pushing for reforms could possibly go a long way to speed up the looming changes.

 

Polls

Because of the electoral system giving rise to many pre-election deals and candidates dropping out after the first round, it is impossible to predict how many seats each party will get. However, voting intention polls indicate that Macron’s La République En Marche ! is prospected a landslide win with 33% of the preferences, which would give him enough seats to govern comfortably.

Republicans are lagging behind. Together with their allies, they’re polling around 20% – only slightly ahead of Le Pen’s Front National. The Socialists and more generally the left are set to confirm Hamon’s catastrophic results in the presidential elections: with trust in them at an all-time low, they are polling at around 7%. The one exception to this decline is Mélenchon’s La France Insoumise, which has gathered alone around 12% of preferences.

Opinion Way poll predicting the composition of the National Assembly (1st June 2017).

 

 

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