Salem Radio Network News Wednesday, June 29, 2022

World

Explainer-Why France’s legislative elections matter

By Ingrid Melander

PARIS (Reuters) – France heads to the polls on June 12 and 19 for parliamentary elections.

Support for President Emmanuel Macron’s Ensemble (Together) alliance is falling, raising questions over whether he will win an absolute majority in parliament.

Here are key facts about this election.

WHY ANOTHER FRENCH ELECTION?

Macron won a second mandate in April as France’s centrist, pro-European president. But that is not enough. He also needs to win a majority in the lower house of parliament this month to maintain full control over his reform agenda.

WHAT ARE THE POLLS FORECASTING?

Voter surveys had until recently shown Macron’s party and its allies – collectively known as Ensemble – winning an absolutely majority in the 577 seat parliament. But that outcome has becomes less certain in recent days.

Momentum is on the side of a left-wing coalition led by hard-left veteran Jean-Luc Melenchon. Melenchon is unlikely to win the 289 seats required for an absolute majority but may win enough to deprive Macron of the same.

WHY DOES THIS MATTER?

Falling short of an absolute majority would be a big setback for Macron. It would force him to broaden his alliance. The broader the alliance the more complicated deal-making, and dictating policy decisions, becomes.

A minority cabinet or coalition government would be an unusual scenario for modern-day France. The Fifth Republic was designed to avoid unwieldy coalitions.

If an opposition grouping were to surprise and win a majority, Macron would have to name a prime minister from the winning camp, ushering in a period of so-called cohabitation.

He would retain the lead on foreign policy but leave responsibility for most day-to-day policy matters to the government.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN?

Voting takes place between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. (0600-1800 GMT) on June 12. In constituencies where no candidate gets 50% of votes in the first round, a run-off vote is held on June 19, with every candidate who won the support of at least 12.5% of registered voters eligible to advance.

Polling for legislative elections is trickier than the presidential election as different dynamics on the ground make it harder to predict who will win nationwide.

WHAT DOES THE ELECTION LINE UP LOOK LIKE?

France’s two mainstream centre-left and centre-right parties dominated the French political landscape until Macron’s election 2017. Five years on both are still fighting for political relevance and the tectonic plates have shifted.

* Macron’s party and his allies run under the banner of the centrist Ensemble alliance.

* Melenchon has gathered the Socialist Party, Greens and Communists behind his own La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party in an unexpected show of unity on the left.

His Nupes alliance is second in polls and did well in early voting among overseas voters.

* The conservatives, Les Republicains, are eyeing being the third biggest parliamentary group. Though they are forecast to be well behind Macron’s camp and the left, they could become kingmakers if Ensemble has the largest group but not an absolute majority.

* Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National (National Rally) is polling third in terms of first-round votes, but fourth in terms of projected seats.

(Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Richard Lough and Alison Williams)

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