Macron Brigitte
France's President Emmanuel Macron (R) and his wife first lady Brigitte Macron (L) walk along the beach during an air show in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, northern France, on June 29, 2024. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Marine Le Pen’s National Rally dominated the first round of voting in France on Sunday, locking up 33.2% of the vote, according to interior ministry figures.

The New Popular Front got 28% and President Emmanuel Macron’s coalition 20.8%.

What happens next and what are Macron’s options? Here’s a look at the scenarios.

What was the outcome of the first round of the snap parliamentary election in France?

Exit polls showed that the far-right National Rally (RN) won the first round, but the final result will depend on the upcoming run-off on July 7. The RN might win in the end but could end up without an absolute majority.

What are the possible outcomes after the run-off?

The outcomes could range from an RN-led government, a cohabitation period with Macron, or a hung parliament leading to political paralysis. The manoeuvring in the next few days will be critical in shaping the final result.

What happens if the RN does not win an absolute majority?

If the RN and its allies do not win an absolute majority of at least 289 seats, they have stated that they will turn down the prime minister position. This could lead to a period of political manoeuvring and potential alliances to form a government.

How is the prime minister chosen in France?

Article 8 of the French constitution states that the president appoints the prime minister but does not specify the criteria for selection. In practice, President Emmanuel Macron would be expected to offer the job to the leading parliamentary group, which could be the RN.

Who is the RN’s candidate for prime minister?

The RN has put forward party leader Jordan Bardella as its candidate for prime minister.

What are Macron’s options if the RN does not secure an absolute majority?

Macron could attempt to form an anti-RN alliance and offer the prime minister position to another party or an unaffiliated individual. He might also try to strike an alliance with mainstream parties or offer the position to the left-wing bloc if they emerge as the second-largest group.

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Protesters at a demonstration at Place de la Republique following the announcement of the results of the first round of French parliamentary elections in Paris, France, on Sunday, June 30, 2024. Image Credit: Bloomberg

What would happen if no alliance or viable government is formed?

If no group is able to govern alone, form a coalition, or run a viable minority government, France risks political paralysis with little or no legislation being adopted, and a caretaker government managing daily affairs.

Could Macron resign if the political situation remains deadlocked?

Macron has ruled out resigning, but it could become an option if a severe deadlock occurs. However, neither parliament nor the government can force him to resign.

Is a repeat election possible?

The French constitution states that there cannot be a new parliamentary election for another year, so an immediate repeat vote is not an option.

How does the second round of France’s parliamentary election work?

Elections for the 577 seats in the National Assembly are a two-round process. In constituencies where no candidate won outright in the first round, the top two candidates, along with any candidate receiving more than 12.5% of the registered voters, move to a second round. The candidate with the most votes in the second round wins the seat.

What is the “republican front” and how does it affect the election?

The “republican front” is a practice where the third-placed candidate drops out and urges voters to rally behind the second-placed candidate to block the far-right RN. This has traditionally helped to prevent the RN from winning, but its effectiveness has weakened over the years.

How have political leaders responded to the first round results?

President Macron and other leaders have urged support for “republican and democratic” candidates to block the RN. Former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe called on his party’s third-placed candidates to drop out in favour of centre-left and centre-right candidates, excluding the RN and the hard-left France Unbowed (LFI). The conservative Republicans party gave no guidance.

What are the key factors to watch in the run-off?

The crucial factors will be the decisions made by candidates over the next 48 hours regarding whether to stand down or run in the second round. These decisions could significantly impact the final outcome and determine whether the RN can achieve an outright majority in parliament.

Who are the main political figures involved in this election?

Jordan Bardella (RN): The 28-year-old leader of the RN and their candidate for prime minister. He has Italian roots and a working-class background.

Gabriel Attal (Together Alliance): At 35, he is France’s youngest post-war prime minister, appointed by Macron in January. He faces the challenge of saving Macron’s presidency.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon (LFI): A fiery orator and divisive figure on the left, Mélenchon leads the hard-left France Unbowed party.

Raphael Glucksmann (Socialist Party): Headed the Socialist list in the European elections and advocates for strong European support for Ukraine.

Laurent Berger (CFDT Trade Union): A former head of the CFDT trade union, seen as a potential unifying figure on the left but has expressed disinterest in being prime minister.

- With inputs from agencies