French elections – New government will be difficult to form

In the second round of the parliamentary elections in France, the left-wing alliance "New Popular Front" surprisingly won the most seats.

Bernd Weidensteiner, Dr. Ralph Solveen

Commerzbank Economic Research

July 8 2024

Followed by the alliance of parties supporting President Macron. The right-wing party (RN), which was favored in the polls, only came third. None of the alliances reached a majority in parliament, so forming a government is likely to be difficult. A left-wing government would therefore only be able to implement a few of its promises. However, the already high budget deficits are likely to increase, and new conflicts are looming at EU level due to the anti-EU stance of part of the New Popular Front.

Le Pen's party only No. 3...

The second round of the parliamentary elections in France has a surprising winner in the form of the left-wing alliance. The "New Popular Front", which only formed a few weeks ago, won 182 of the 577 seats in the National Assembly. Macron's coalition did better than feared and still has 168 seats, while the Rassemblement National (RN) has 143 seats.

The reason for the surprising result is the tactical behavior of the left and center parties. They wanted to prevent the RN from winning at all costs and therefore withdrew their less promising candidates in order to increase the chances of the remaining candidate being elected (the French version of the German "firewall"). At 59.7%, voter turnout was significantly higher than in 2022 (38.1%), which probably hurt the RN. Even though the RN fell well short of its election target of an absolute majority, it significantly increased its number of seats in parliament (2022: 89 seats).

...none of the blocs is within reach of a majority

The majority in parliament is 289 seats. None of the three major blocs even come close. It is also questionable how stable the New Popular Front is. This is made up of 74 seats for LFI (the far-left party of Jean-Luc Mélenchon) with 74 seats, the Socialists (59 seats), the Greens (28 seats) and the Communists (9 seats).

It might be difficult to form a government

Prime Minister Attal wants to hand in his resignation today, but President Macron might not accepted it immediately. Attal could remain in his post for a transitional period.

It is currently difficult to predict who will succeed him. But one thing is certain: it will be difficult to form a stable and effective government. The prime minister is appointed by the president and not elected by parliament. However, he can be overthrown by parliament at any time by a vote of no confidence. Which camp the prime minister will come from will probably also depend on whether the New People's Front can agree on a candidate despite major internal differences of opinion. If this candidate is one of the more moderate forces, President Macron is unlikely to be able to avoid appointing him or her. However, the incoming prime minister would be dependent on the toleration of the Macron camp and perhaps even the Republicans (LR), who could topple him at any time together with the RN in a vote of no confidence.

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