The temperatures across France fell on Sunday but those of the French political environment definitely rose as citizens cast their votes in the second round of a high-stakes parliamentary election that could undo the centrist coalition Ensemble!’s absolute majority in the parliament necessary for President Emmanuel Macron to govern with a free hand.
The polling stations opened at 8 am CEST and the voting is scheduled to conclude at 8 pm CEST. In an election that could change the face of French politics, pollsters predict Macron’s camp will check out with the largest number of seats, albeit it is uncertain whether it will scramble the desired 289 seats required to acquire an absolute majority.
The elections may see the far-right likely scoring its biggest parliamentary success in decades, pollsters suggest. Also, France may wake up to a broad left-green alliance becoming the largest opposition group and the conservatives finding themselves able to nominate key French officials.
Should Macron’s Ensemble! fail to secure an outright majority, it would herald a period of uncertainty that could be sorted out by a degree of power-sharing among parties – something that France has not witnessed over the past decades. Alternatively, it could paralyse French politics – a paralysis curable by repeated parliamentary elections in the future.
To recall, riding the wave of his election promises that include pushing up the retirement age, going with his pro-business agenda and advancing EU integration, Macron sprung out of the April presidential elections into his second term after a runoff against Marine Le Pen.
Macron and his allies could still achieve a comfortable parliamentary majority but the fresh new things of the political left may thwart that ambition by playing the card of rampant inflation that drives up the cost of living and puts the French political landscape into a long-unseen jitter. France may see some MPs poaching on the side of Macron’s faction, should it miss an absolute majority by just a few seats, as put by parties officials.
However, if the margin turned out wider, Macron’s coalition could either expand by the conservatives or it could run a minority government forced to negotiate laws on a case-by-case basis with other parties.
What Macron’s camp wants to do, if it wins the 289 seats or more, is avoid power-sharing. Macron’s former prime minister Edouard Philippe is predicted to be demanding more of a say on what the government does.
It is thus possible that after five years of uncompromised top-down governance on the part of Macron, he will have to bite the bullet and strike more compromises under the new mandate.
A scenario in which Jean-Luc Melenchon’s leftwing Nupes win a ruling majority was not something the polls showed. This is positive news in terms of the stability of the euro zone’s second-largest economy – should the polls be proven wrong and France ends up having a president and prime minister, the latter being Mr Melenchon, the country would be plunged into an unstable political period of rugged collaboration between opposing political factions.
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