France’s legislative elections on Sunday saw French President Emmanuel Macron lose his overall majority, while a resurgent and unified left came through as the main opposition. Meanwhile, the far-right remained stronger than ever despite an electoral system that is usually unfavourable to it.
Macron’s camp won 245 seats in the French parliament, below what is needed for an absolute majority of 289 seats. Macron’s group was followed by the Nupes coalition of socialist and far-left votes with 137 seats, while the far-right Rassemblement National made a historic breakthrough winning 89 seats.
Voting levels reached record lows, with 53.77% of the electorate abstaining, according to the French Ministry of the Interior. But poor as the turnout was in 2022, it was not as low as in 2017 when 57% of the French electorate declined to vote.
The Ensemble coalition consists of 170 MPs from Renaissance ( previously La Republique en Marche), 46 from MoDem, 26 Horizons politicians, with three from the Radical Party.
In the Nupes camp now sits 72 MPs elected under the Nupes- La France Insoumise alliance, with 26 from Nupes – Parti Socialiste, 23 from Nupes- EELV and 12 under Nupes-PCF.
Takeaways from the election
The election results can be seen as a defeat for Macron’s party who for the past five years has held a clear majority in the French parliament. Macron will face a renewed and revitalised opposition to be able to deliver on his agenda, especially on major controversial legislation such as pension reforms.
It looks likely that the Ensemble! group will have to go into coalition with other parties. His most likely coalition partner would appear to be Les Républicains, who took a major hit going from 101 seats to 61. But with Macron’s group forced to seek coalitions, French policy could shift to the right in Macron’s next five-year term, if Les Républicains become kingmakers.
The pan-left coalition of Nupes, led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, came in second with 137 seats. The results fell short of what pollsters had predicted, with Ipsos/Sopra Steria having projected 150 seats for Nupes.
However, the result still places the progressive coalition as the main opposition force that President Macron will have to contend with in order to push through his reform agenda.
Mélenchon described the results as a “total defeat” for Macron’s party.
Meanwhile, the far-right surged beyond expectations as Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National won 89 seats, ten times more than the party’s eight current seats.
The results far exceeded pollsters’ predictions, especially given how the French elections are set up in way the usually deter far-right movements from winning much ground in the French parliament.
Le Pen praised the election results as “historic” and promised that her party would oppose the President’s agenda. She also announced announced that she will leave the presidency of the party to focus on leading the group within the National Assembly.