France Begins Voting in Key Parliamentary Elections

Potential Far-Right Gains Amidst Economic Dissatisfaction and Political Division.

- Advertisement -

Voters throughout the mainland France voted in the first round of extraordinary parliamentary elections on Sunday, with nationalist, far-right groups potentially taking control of the government for the first time since the Nazi period.

The result of the two-round elections, which end on July 7, may have an influence on European financial markets, Western backing for Ukraine, and how France manages its nuclear weapons and worldwide military might.

Many French voters are dissatisfied with inflation and economic issues, as well as President Emmanuel Macron’s leadership, which they see as arrogant and out of touch with their realities. Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigrant National Rally party has capitalized on such resentment, particularly via internet platforms like French TikTok, and is leading in preelection surveys.

A new left-wing coalition, the New Popular Front, also offers a threat to pro-business President Macron and his centrist alliance, Together for the Republic. It comprises the French Socialists, Communists, and the hard-left France Unbowed party, and promises to repeal a very unpopular pension reform bill that increased the retirement age from 62 to 64, among other economic changes.

During the two-round voting, 49.5 million registered voters will elect 577 members of the National Assembly, France’s crucial lower house of parliament.

According to interior ministry estimates, turnout at noon in the first round was 25.9%, up from 18.43% at midday in the 2022 legislative election. The voting is held during the usual first week of summer vacation in France, and absentee ballot requests were at least five times greater than in the 2022 elections.

The first polling predictions were anticipated around 8 p.m. (1800 GMT), when the last voting booths closed. Early official results were anticipated late Sunday night.

Macron voted at Le Touquet, a coastal village in northern France, with his wife Brigitte. Le Pen voted in her party’s heartland in northern France.

Voters at a Paris polling location were concerned about topics ranging from immigration to inflation and growing living costs as the nation has become further split between far right and far left blocs, with a profoundly unpopular and weakened president in the political center. The blitz effort was hampered by increased hate speech.

“People don’t like what has been happening,” said Cynthia Justine, a 44-year-old voter. “People believe they have lost a lot in recent years. People are angry. “I’m angry.” She went on to say that with “the rising hate speech,” it was vital for people to voice their dissatisfaction with those who have and desire power.

“It is important for me because I am a woman and we haven’t always had the right to vote,” Justine told me. “Because I’m a Black woman, it’s much more crucial. “There is a lot at stake on this day.”

Macron called the early elections after his party lost the European Parliament election earlier in June to the National Rally, which has a history of racism and antisemitism and is opposed to France’s Muslim population. It also has historical links with Russia.

Macron’s appeal was an ambitious wager that French voters who were complacent about the European election would be startled into voting for moderate forces in national elections to keep the extreme right out of power.

Pre-election surveys, on the other hand, indicated that the National Rally is gaining momentum and may win a legislative majority. In that case, Macron is set to appoint 28-year-old National Rally President Jordan Bardella as prime minister in an uneasy power-sharing arrangement known as “cohabitation.”

While Macron has said that he would not stand down before his presidential term ends in 2027, cohabitation would damage him at home and on the international scene.

Philippe Lempereur, a 64-year-old retiree, voiced frustration with politicians from the left, right, and center, citing their failure to collaborate on matters like as ensuring people had housing and adequate food. “We vote by default, for the least worse option,” according to him. “I prefer to vote than do nothing.” In the European elections, his northern French neighborhood overwhelmingly supported the National Rally party.

The results of the first round will provide an indication of general voter mood, but not necessarily of the composition of the future National Assembly. Predictions are tough because to the intricate voting method and the fact that parties will form coalitions in certain areas while withdrawing from others between rounds.

Historically, such tactical measures have helped keep far-right contenders out of office. However, Le Pen’s party has garnered widespread popularity.

Bardella, who has no government experience, claims he would use his prime ministerial powers to prevent Macron from continuing to deliver long-range missiles to Ukraine in the conflict with Russia.

The National Rally has also questioned the right to citizenship for persons born in France and intends to limit the rights of French citizens with dual nationality. Critics argue that this weakens basic human rights and poses a danger to France’s democratic principles.

Meanwhile, the National Rally and, particularly, the left-wing coalition’s large public expenditure commitments have rocked markets and fueled concerns about France’s high debt, which has previously been chastised by EU watchdogs.

Polls in the restive French Pacific region of New Caledonia closed prematurely owing to a curfew imposed by authorities on the archipelago until July 8. Violence erupted on May 13, killing nine people after two weeks of agitation, in response to Macron’s government’s plans to modify the French Constitution and reform New Caledonia’s voting lists, which the Indigenous Kanaks thought would further marginalize them. They have long wanted to break free from France.

Voters in France’s other overseas territories, including Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint-Martin, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyana, and French Polynesia, as well as those voting at embassies and consular posts across the Americas, cast their votes Saturday.

- Advertisement -

Hot Topics

Related Articles