Surprising new election: Macron’s dangerous game with Bardella

“Le choc” or “The shock”, was the headline of the French newspaper “Le Figaro” on Monday after the European elections. The newspaper’s front page is graced by President Macron on one side and 28-year-old Bardella on the other, leader of the RN party, the EU’s top candidate and the political stepson of Marine Le Pen – the right-wing nationalists have long been clear in the polls.

However, Macron’s decision to hold fresh elections on Sunday evening, just ahead of the Olympics in France, came unexpectedly. In particular, with elections due on June 30 and July 7 – Macron is not standing for election himself, but instead wants to secure a large majority from his center camp for the remaining three years. “The danger is that in about a month Macron will have the 28-year-old Bartella reign as prime minister, who represents everything he (Macron, ed.) hates,” the New York Times said.

Reuters/Hannah McKay

Macron’s government has long been under pressure

Statement: Fresh elections have been an option for months

However, Macron’s decision does not appear to have been rushed. French newspaper Le Monde reported on Monday that a small group at the Elysee Palace had been discussing the option of dissolving the National Assembly for months.

Macron’s camp has been fighting the National Assembly for nearly two years. for it has no absolute majority there, and can carry out its plans with great difficulty, and often only by stiff hands and by a cast of votes. A vote of no confidence in the government in the fall had long simmered over the government.

The bitter defeat of Macron and his allies in the European elections, where the RN won not even half of the votes, put further pressure on the president – ultimately leading to the decision to call new elections.

Is majority voting a hindrance to RN?

There is now a heated international debate about the consequences for the troops around Macron’s camp on the one hand and Le Pen and Bartella on the other. “While the European elections gave the Rallye National a clear victory, the parliamentary elections are unlikely to achieve such a clear victory,” said an analysis by Politico on Monday.

“Le Pen will do well in the general elections,” Mujtaba Rahman, European head of risk consultancy Eurasia Group, told Politico. There are two rounds of elections, with different electorates being assembled.

Heights (ORF) in Macron’s subtle maneuvering.

After the landslide victory of right-wing nationalists in the European elections in France, President Emmanuel Macron wants to stop the further advance of Marine Le Pen’s troops with a bold move. Researched by Leonie Heights (ORF).

In elections to the French National Assembly – unlike European elections – majority voting applies. To be elected in the first round, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of the vote – otherwise there will be a runoff. “It’s fundamentally more difficult for a right-wing candidate to win a seat in the national parliament,” says Politico.

In the 2022 parliamentary elections, Macron’s camp won 245 seats, while the RN won only 89. A poll by Toluna Harris Interactive released on Monday showed the RN could win 235 to 265 seats in the National Assembly in the upcoming election. There are total 577 seats available.

“Coexistence” is in the room

“Macron is much less likely to be in a better position after an early election than before,” political scientist Yann Wernert of the Jacques Delors Center in Berlin told AFP. The National Assembly can be divided into three blocs: the presidential camp, the left-green camp and the right-wing populists. “Or an absolute majority for the RN, which would have even more far-reaching consequences and would most likely deprive Macron of his ability to act,” Wernert said.

If the RN wins a government majority, France will have “cooperation” for the first time in 22 years. It has so far happened three times that the president and the strongest political group in parliament are from different political camps, from 1997 to 2002, with conservative President Jacques Chirac and Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.

RN trusts Bartella

If the RN wins, Bartella will become prime minister, his mentor Le Pen, who wants to run again for the National Assembly, told broadcaster TF1 on Monday.

Bardella had a lightning career: raised in modest circumstances in a Parisian suburb, he joined Le Pen’s party at the age of 17. He quickly fought his way to the top of the RN. At the age of 23, Bartella ran as a leading candidate in the European elections for the first time. On TikTok he inspires millions of viewers with slogans against the “flood of migrants”.

RN parliamentary group leader Le Pen, who wants to run for president in 2027, said her party was ready to “seize power” on election night. Barthella said that the formation of a right-wing party alliance for the elections was being discussed. Le Pen’s daughter-in-law Marion Marechal, the EU’s leading candidate from the far-right Reconquete party, opened up to cooperation after a meeting with Bartella and Le Pen on Monday – to the dismay of party leader Eric Zemmour, according to media reports.

The government camp, which has lost its absolute majority in the 2022 parliamentary elections, also switched to election campaign mode on Monday. Foreign Minister Stéphane Sejourn, leader of Macron’s Renaissance Party, called for “the mobilization of all republican forces”.

Deformed front to right

“A lot will depend on whether the left pulls itself together and can inspire its voters,” said Brice Teinturier of polling firm Ipsos, looking ahead to the upcoming elections. In the past, the right and left often formed a “republican front” in second-round parliamentary elections to prevent the RN candidate from winning. However, with the increasing success of the RN, this “front” was shattered.

The outcome of the new election could also have a significant impact on Europe, said Thierry Chopin of Jacques Delors. “If RN delivers the prime minister, it will complicate negotiations at the EU level,” he said.

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