Early elections in France: on the eve of the historic second round, Macron and Le Pen put to the test by voting


By John

Will the newly formed “republican front” be able to counter the electoral victory of the Rassemblement National? This is the question hanging over France on the eve of the second round of early elections. Already at midday today, the French of the first of the “overseas territories”, the small community of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, off the coast of Canada in the North Atlantic, will begin voting: in the only electoral college of the archipelago, the runoff is between a right-wing representative and a socialist. This will be followed by Guyana, the West Indies, the French who live on the American continent and Polynesia, then in the evening New Caledonia. Voters in mainland France and the other overseas territories will vote tomorrow.

At the national level, legislative elections have rarely sparked such passion, aroused anxiety among some or the hope of those who, by voting for Marine Le Pen’s party, want to give her political family the chance to govern: it would be the first far-right government in France since the Second World War. A few hours before the end of the electoral campaign on Friday at midnight and the start of the reserve period, several polls seemed to show a neck-and-neck race between the three blocs, the RN and its allies, the leftist alliance New Popular Front (NFP) and the Macronists, ruling out an absolute majority (of at least 289 seats) for the far right.

Last Sunday, after winning the first round with 33.2%, the Le Pen party seemed capable of obtaining a strong relative, if not absolute, majority.. Despite a slight decline, it repeated the success obtained in the European elections of June 9, which pushed President Emmanuel Macron to overturn the tables by deciding to dissolve the National Assembly.

To counter the RN, more than 200 candidates from the left and the center withdrew in the hours following the first round. And dozens of triangular confrontations, which would have favored the Rassemblement, have turned into more uncertain duels. A supporter of the alliance on the left despite his opposition to La France insoumise (LFI), MEP Raphael Glucksmann, former head of the Socialist list in the European elections, warned against a demobilization of voters and said that the possibility of an absolute majority for the Le Penist party cannot yet be ruled out. “The danger is a majority dominated by the far right and it would be a catastrophic project,” Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, head of the Macron campaign, warned on television yesterday. If the RN wins the majority, the prime minister will be Jordan Bardella, 28, the youngest prime minister in history, to implement the anti-immigration agenda that his party has supported for decades.

But if the left and the Macronists, with their republican front, manage to defeat the right, they will have to face a difficult negotiation to govern the country. Gabriel Attal has declared that his government will be able to guarantee the continuity of the State “for as long as necessary” while waiting for the formation of a new government. In the meantime, Paris will host the Olympic Games from July 26 to August 11; and if tradition dictates that the government submits its resignation after legislative elections, Gabriel Attal has said that he will make up his mind as early as Sunday evening.