News / France Political Situation: High stakes snap elections put France at the crossroads

June 2024

France Political Situation: High stakes snap elections put France at the crossroads

Region: Europe

Author: Lucie Gonçalves

Set to take place on June 30 and July 7, 2024, these elections represent a risky gamble for Macron, with a far-right National Rally riding high after its strong June 9 European election performance and the sharp decline of his own party's support in the same election.

In a controversial move characteristic of his tenure as president of France, Emmanuel Macron has thrown the country’s political landscape into turmoil by announcing the dissolution of the National Assembly and snap parliamentary elections. Set to take place on June 30 and July 7, 2024, these elections represent a risky gamble for Macron, with a far-right National Rally riding high after its strong June 9 European election performance and the sharp decline of his own party’s support in the same election.

In the lead-up to the elections, parliamentary work at both the National Assembly and the Senate has come to a halt. In addition, the government is observing a period of reserve during which Ministers refrain from making new announcements or from traveling in their official capacities, effectively pausing all critical policy initiatives.

The French electoral system

France’s electoral system has a few idiosyncratic characteristics. First, the Parliament has no say over the presidency of the country. This means that Macron’s own position will not be directly endangered, irrespective of the outcome of the snap elections. For parliamentary elections, the country employs a first past-the-post, two-round voting process. After the first round, the two leading candidates, as well as those who have gathered 12.5% of registered voters, qualify for the second round. This system inherently favors the formation of coalitions in the first round and sets the stage for strategic alliances and realignments.

Macron’s high-stakes gambit: a last stand for centrism?

President Macron’s decision to call snap elections can be seen as a calculated risk aimed at stemming the tide of far-right populism that is steadily gaining ground in France, as shown on June 9. In a passionate address to voters on June 12, Macron cast his move as a last-ditch effort to keep the far-right out of power, imploring centrists, democrats, and pro-Europeans to unite.

In particular, he pleaded for voters to prevent what he termed an “impoverishment of the country.” Macron’s resolute pursuit of unpopular economic policies, including the contentious pension and unemployment insurance reforms, and the grave risks to France’s financial stability at a time when markets are increasingly jittery over the ongoing political crisis, do lend some credibility to his call.

The great realignment: fractured right and united left

In any event, Macron’s bombshell announcement has precipitated a major recomposing of France’s political landscape, with unlikely alliances forming and long-standing partnerships fracturing.

On the right, a rift has emerged within the conservative Les Républicains party, with its president, Eric Ciotti, attempting to forge an alliance with the far-right National Rally, much to the outrage of all other senior party leaders. Consequently, candidates backed by the party will most likely be competing with those supported by a now isolated Ciotti. Even former conservative French President Nicolas Sarkozy disavowed Éric Ciotti’s decision, both on the form and content, qualifying Ciotti’s alliance proposal “an absorption”, adding that  “being the NR’s deputy is not an ambition, but a renunciation”. On the far-right, Marion Maréchal Le Pen who headed one of two far-right lists to gain seats in the European elections of June 6-9 has now turned her back on her party leader and rallied her aunt Marine Le Pen, further consolidating an already ascendent National Rally.

Meanwhile, the left has unexpectedly coalesced into a vast coalition under the banner of the “New Popular Front”, a storied name which calls back to the fight against France’s fascist forces in the 1930s. Despite deep rifts over Israel’s war in Gaza during the European election campaign, the Socialist Party, French Communist Party, Greens, and far-left party La France Insoumise have set aside their differences in a bid to counter Macron’s centrist coalition and the rise of the far-right, in an attempt to rebalance the ex-left parliamentary alliance (“NUPES”) that had been built for the 2022 legislative elections. 

Macron’s Ensemble: a broad church for moderates?

Pressed on both sides, Macron has embarked on an ambitious campaign to broaden his current majority, “Ensemble” (Together). He has extended an olive branch to smaller centrist parties and aims to forge a “federation of projects” capable of governing effectively. In a bid to peel moderates from his rivals, Macron’s overtures have even extended to social democrats, ecologists, Christian democrats, and Gaullists who, in his words, refuse to give in to “extremist fever.”

Accordingly, Macron has decided not to field candidates from his coalition in constituencies currently held by these moderate politicians, thereby maximizing the chances of those candidates’ victory and denying a foothold to supposedly extremist parties. Despite the conciliatory rhetoric, Macron will still fight any moderate who refuses to formally join his coalition. For instance, while former Socialist President François Hollande, in whose administration Macron ran the Economy Ministry, won’t be facing an Ensemble candidate when running for Parliament under the New Popular Front banner, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal announced that Macron’s majority would support Hollande’s right-wing competitor.

Three scenarios, one uncertain future

As France braces for these high-stakes elections, three potential scenarios loom on the horizon. Under the best possible scenario for Macron, his party would achieve an absolute majority or a solid relative majority in the National Assembly. By capitalizing on a potential rally of the moderates against the far-right and on the left’s perceived inability to unite swiftly, Macron hopes to not only solidify his parliamentary majority but also to weaken the right, enabling his coalition to secure local duels against the National Rally.

However, the formation of the Popular Front alliance has cast doubt on the likelihood of this first scenario. Should Macron secure an absolute majority, he could opt to reappoint Gabriel Attal as Prime Minister or usher in a new premier and cabinet reshuffle, potentially bidding farewell to heavyweight ministers like Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire.

Under a second scenario, Macron could be forced into a potential cohabitation with either the National Rally or the New Popular Front. Should either secure an absolute or solid relative majority in the National Assembly, the president would have to appoint a prime minister reflecting the composition of the parliamentary majority. This would lead to significant regulatory and administrative changes, particularly in the event of a National Rally victory.

Initial projections suggest that the National Rally stands a high chance of securing at least a relative majority, a prospect that has sent shockwaves through France’s political establishment.

A third and unprecedented scenario is the possibility of an even more fragmented National Assembly than the one that has limped on since 2022. Such an outcome would plunge France into uncharted territory, forcing parliamentary forces into uneasy alliances to avert political paralysis. With no option for a new dissolution within a year of the snap elections, the country could find itself mired in an unprecedented institutional crisis.


As of June 2024, early polling by Ifop suggests that the National Rally currently leads with 33% of voting intentions, potentially translating to 220-270 seats (out of 577). The left-wing Popular Front alliance then follows closely at 28%, eyeing 150-190 seats. Macron’s coalition and allies could garner 18% of voting intentions, or 90-130 seats. Finally, the once-formidable center-right Les Républicains are projected to secure a mere 4% of the vote, equating to 30-40 seats. On the other hand, turnout would be significantly higher than in the first round of the 2022 parliamentary elections (+14.5%).

With the snap parliamentary elections merely weeks away, France finds itself at a crossroads, with the future direction of its politics, economy, and even societal fabric hanging in the balance. Whichever scenario unfolds, one thing is certain: these elections will be a defining moment in the country’s history, with profound implications for its role on the global stage and its ability to navigate the many challenges it already faces.

contact us

Please reach out
for further information
regarding our services.