FRANCE is set to hold what is seen as its most consequential election in decades. Voting will take place in two stages, on June 30 and July 7, to decide the composition of the National Assembly, the lower house of the French parliament. Current polling gives a decisive edge to the far right National Rally (RN), with President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Ensemble coalition placed a distant third.

Macron called for snap polls after his party received a drubbing in the European Parliament elections earlier this month. RN won more than 31% of the French vote, double that of Macron’s centrists (less than 15%). In terms of seats, the difference was 30-13. Announcing the election on June 9, Macron called his decision “grave, heavy”, but said he could not “carry on as if nothing had happened”.

The announcement came as a surprise to almost everyone, even in his own party, according to reports. Legislative elections were not due until 2027, and Macron trails in all opinion polls. Experts said his “gamble” was made with an eye on the future.

In 2022, Macron was elected President for a second term but his party failed to win a majority. His minority government has struggled to pass legislation, often resorting to a provision of the French Constitution that allows bills to go through without a direct vote, but exposes the government to a no-confidence motion every time that happens. Since 2022, Macron’s party has survived 28 such no-confidence votes — there is no guarantee that it would continue doing so indefinitely. The snap poll preempts such a situation, which experts say would have been far more damaging for his party.

Moreover, if RN forms the government, Macron has three years to expose its perceived contradictions and limitations. Much of the far right’s appeal stems from its anti-status quo messaging and difficult-to-keep promises. In office, RN will have to deliver on these, or risk being called incompetent. Analysts have argued that relinquishing some power now may give Macron’s platform a better chance of retaining it in 2027.

Festive offer

Parties in the fray

According to latest polls by Politicothree parties/coalitions together command over 80% of the popular vote, even though none of them individually has touched 40%.


Marine Le Pen‘s party currently holds 88 of 577 seats in the National Assembly. It is the largest opposition party, and polling indicates that it can triple its tally, becoming the biggest party in the lower house, even if it does not win an outright majority.

RN is staunchly anti-immigration, anti-EU, anti-Islam, and pro-Putin. Its predecessor National Front was founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine’s father, in 1972, and was notorious for its openly racist and xenophobic rhetoric, as well as Holocaust denial. Since its 2018 rebrand, Le Pen has attempted to broaden RN’s appeal and shed the ‘fascist’ tag, softening its rhetoric even while keeping many ofits controversial policy positions.

Ahead of the election, the party has also dropped many ofits traditional welfarist promises, positioning itself as a pro-business party, much like Macron’s centrists. Jordan Bardella, the party’s 28-year-old president, is the RN’s prime ministerial candidate.


The newly formed left-wing alliance comprises Socialist, Green and Communist parties, as well as Jean-Luc Melenchon’s Unsubmissive France. In 2022, a similar alliance (New Popular, Environmental and Social Union, or NUPES) contested the election under Melenchon’s leadership.

All parties in the NFP have been vocal critics of Macron’s policies, with the NFP promising to undo his controversial pension reform, increase the minimum wage, and introduce numerous welfare policies, funded heavily by taxing corporations and the rich. NFP’s manifesto also focuses on renewables, although it does not mention nuclear power.

It has not yet announced a prime ministerial candidate. Apart from Melenchon, Raphael Glucksmann of the Socialist Party is the most notable name in the coalition — and the two leaders have noticeable differences among themselves. Key to NFP’s performance in both the polls and the new National Assembly will be the ability of the left-wing allies to stick together.


Ensemble includes Macron’s Renaissance party, the centrist Modem, and the center-right Horizons party. Currently, Ensemble controls 250 seats in the National Assembly, a number that is set to plummet, possibly to under 100 seats, according to surveys. The centrist coalition is also not running as a single party — former Prime Minister Edouard Phillipe’s Horizons party is going alone, although it has left the door open to join the coalition after the election. Centrist voters can play kingmakers in certain constituencies — what remains to be seen is whether their vote will turn right or left.

How the elections work

Votes will be cast in all 577 constituencies in the first round. Candidates who secure more than 50% of votes polled, and a vote total greater than 25% of the registered electorate in the constituency, will be elected. If these criteria are not met, a second round will take place — this will likely be the case in the majority of constituencies.

In the run-off election, the top two candidates, as well as anyone who has got the support of at least 12.5% ​​of registered voters (not votes polled) will contest. The candidate with the most votes will win. The second round is often a two-way contest. There were only seven 3-way runoffs in 2022.

In theory, the President can appoint anyone Prime Minister; In practice, the PM must have the support of the majority in the Assembly. There are no specific provisions to appoint a PM in case of a hung house. There is a clear separation of powers between the National Assembly and the PM, and the President. The President enjoys regulatory power, and exercises control over foreign policy and defense. Parliament, headed by the PM, is responsible for all domestic policy decisions.