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Macron’s centrists to keep a majority


French President Emmanuel Macron arrives in Figeac for a rally campaign ahead of the second round in France’s presidential election in 2022.

Benoit Tessier | Reuters

Projections Sunday show that the French president Emmanuel Macron’s centrist allies will retain their parliamentary majority in the second round of voting.

Based on partial elections results, projections showed that Macron’s party got between 25% and 26% of national vote. This resulted in them being neck-in–neck with the new leftist coalition, which is made up of socialists, hard-left and green party supporters. But Macron’s contenders are predicted to win in more districts than the leftist competitors, which gives him a majority.

There were more than 6000 candidates running for 577 seats of France’s National Assembly. This was the first round.

This two-round voting system does not take into account the national support for a party. It is therefore complex. French races with no decisive winner on Sunday can elect up to four candidates that get at least 12.5% of the vote in June’s second round.

While consumer concerns over rising inflation are dominating the campaign, voter enthusiasm is still low. This was evident in Sunday’s turnout which revealed that only half of France’s 48.7million voters had cast their ballots.

Hard-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who had hoped the election would vault him into the prime minister’s post, was among only a trickle of voters as he cast his ballot in Marseille, a southern port city.

One small crowd watched Macron’s arrival in Le Touquet, an English Channel resort, to cast his vote on France’s opposite coast.

His centrist coalition, after Macron’s May election, sought an absolute majority in order to carry out his campaign promises. This included tax cuts, raising France’s retirement ages from 62 to 65, and raising France’s income taxes.

However, Sunday’s projections show that Macron and his allies may have difficulty securing more than half of the Assembly seats this year. Although a majority of the government would be allowed to govern, it could not rule without some opposition support.

Polling agencies estimated that Macron’s centrists could win from 255 to over 300 seats, while Mélenchon’s leftist coalition could win more than 200 seats. When it comes to the voting of laws, the National Assembly is in control.

Mélenchon’s platform includes a significant minimum wage increase, lowering the retirement age to 60 and locking in energy prices, which have been soaring due to the war in Ukraine. Anti-globalization zealot Melenchon has called for France’s withdrawal from NATO and to “disobey” EU regulations.

Although Macron won the presidential race by beating Marine Le Pen, far-right candidates in France’s parliamentary elections are difficult races. To increase the chances of defeating far right candidates in round two, rivals from other parties often coordinate with each other or step aside.

Le Pen’s National Rally, a far-right party of the National Right, hopes to win more seats than it did five years ago when it was elected with eight seats. A far-right group with at least 15 seats would be allowed in the parliamentary groups and have greater authority at the assembly.

Le Pen, herself, is running for reelection at her stronghold in Henin-Beaumont (northern France), where she cast her ballot Sunday.

Voters debated outside a Paris voting station, whether they should support Macron’s party to maintain smooth governance and keep out extremist views or back Macron’s opponents in order to hear more perspectives.

Dominique Debarre, a retired scientist, said, “When you have parliament that isn’t completely aligned with the government that allows more interesting conversations and discussion,” On the other side, cohabitation (a divided political situation) can always be seen as a sign that something is wrong.