Press cartoon of the week French legislative elections

A pyrrhic victory

Published on 21 June 2022 at 17:12

On Sunday 19 June, the second round of the French legislative elections saw President Emmanuel Macron's centre-right coalition Ensemble ! (Together!) hold its lead in the National Assembly (lower chamber) while emerging greatly weakened. It’s a bitter victory, with the presidential camp winning ‘just’ 245 of the 577 seats - far fewer than in 2017, when Macron's La République en marche won 308 seats on its own.

In second place came the New Popular Ecological and Social Union (NUPES, left) with 131 seats. This disparate coalition of socialists, communists, greens and members of France's third largest party - La France Insoumise (LFI) - is now the main opposition to the presidential party. The election also saw the historic breakthrough of Marine Le Pen and her Rassemblement national (RN, far-right), rising from eight seats in 2017 to 89 and now in position to create its own parliamentary group. More important still, the far right party now seeks to chair the powerful National Assembly finance committee (the body charged with, among other things, overseeing the national budget), a post traditionally reserved for the leading opposition group.

The newly re-elected president thus loses his absolute majority (dropping 289 seats) and finds himself in a relatively uncommon situation in France, having to consider either a political coalition in parliament (perhaps with Les Républicains, a right-wing party that won 61 seats and is currently opposed to any alliance) or a minority government (seeking arrangements with other parties on a case-by-case basis). If both options prove impossible, the dissolution of the National Assembly and new elections may be the only way out for Macron.

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