French parliamentary elections enter decisive second round as left-wing and centrists join hands
Published: Jul 07, 2024 08:48 PM
French President Emmanuel Macron casts his ballot in the first round of the early French parliamentary election, in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, northern France on June 30, 2024. Photo: VCG

French President Emmanuel Macron casts his ballot in the first round of the early French parliamentary election, in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, northern France on June 30, 2024. Photo: VCG

After the far-right took the lead in the first round of France's snap legislative elections, Sunday's second and decisive round saw joint efforts from the left-wing and the centrists to try to prevent the far-right from gaining an absolute majority. 

Although their alliance may influence some voters' decisions, National Rally (RN) is still expected to be the more supported faction as far-right forces in Europe are rapidly gaining momentum, observers noted.

According to the results published by the French Interior Ministry, the far-right RN won 37 seats in the first round of the elections held earlier on June 30. Following the RN, the New Popular Front (NFP), the left-wing parties' electoral alliance, won 32 seats, while French President Emmanuel Macron's centrist coalition only gained two seats, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday. 

Five other deputies from various right and extreme right parties were also elected during the first round.

To stop the RN from gaining an absolute majority, the NFP and Macron's coalition announced that their candidates who entered the second round in third place would renounce their candidacy to not split anti-RN votes.

"We can avoid an absolute majority for the far right," France's prime minister Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday.

Observers pointed out that the left-wing and the centrists have successfully persuaded candidates with slim chances of winning to withdraw from the election, thus concentrating campaign resources from various parties. Their aim is to consolidate votes for more promising non-far-right candidates, forming "a siege against the RN."

France has a long history of preventing far-right wing parties from taking power, and history seems to be repeating itself this time too, Zhao Junjie, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of European Studies, told the Global Times on Sunday.

However, as pre-election polls show that RN's support is high, a significant change is not likely to happen in just one week, Zhao said. "The efforts of other parties to stop RN may affect their chances and prevent them from obtaining an absolute majority, but their probability of leading remains higher."

If the results of the French parliamentary elections come as projected, France will have a hung parliament and the political system could enter a volatile and unstable stage, analysts said. The success of the RN in forming a government depends on the party's final number of seats and the situation of other political parties.

Although it seems difficult for the RN to find allies to form a government at the moment, considering the flexibility shown by French political parties, it is possible for some factions to eventually agree to form a coalition government with RN. At the same time, other parties will also seek to form a coalition government, Zhao said.

France was supposed to be in a period of political stability, with the presidential election and National Assembly elections both taking place in 2022, and the next parliamentary elections originally set for 2027. However, on June 9, Macron announced the sudden dissolution of the National Assembly and called new legislative elections after his Renaissance party coalition suffered a heavy defeat in the European Parliament (EP) elections. French media outlets describe the snap legislative elections in France as "a historic moment to face."

Judging by the current situation, far-right forces in Europe are still on the rise, Zhao told the Global Times. 

"It is evident from previous results and the EP elections that voters are clearly disappointed with the traditional pro-establishment parties. Therefore, in the coming years, the far-right may continue to rise," he said.

At the same time, Zhao noted that while voters are disappointed with the traditional pro-establishment camp, a far-right government may also fail to meet their expectations, which could lead to a potential backlash in public opinion in the near future.