What happens after the election in France?


Lerato Khumalo

After the parliamentary elections, France must find a government. But the majority situation is complicated by the surprise victory of the left. What this means for Macron, Le Pen and France.

The events in the parliamentary elections in France have unfolded rapidly. The left-wing camp has surprisingly won. The right-wing nationalists are gaining ground, but have no chance of forming their own government. And the Prime Minister has announced that he wants to resign. What will happen next in France:

That is at least what the leaders of the Nouveau Front Populaire alliance, the strongest force in the National Assembly, are demanding. As president, it is up to Emmanuel Macron to appoint the prime minister. It is not yet clear whether he will accept Prime Minister Gabriel Attal’s resignation. It is also not clear who he will appoint to form a government in such a case.

Despite their surprise success, the left remains far from an absolute majority. This means that the other factions could overthrow a left-wing government not only with a vote of no confidence. The past two years, in which the Macron camp only had a relative majority in the parliamentary chamber, have also shown how difficult it is to govern in France without an absolute majority. It is unclear whether the left would be more successful in this, especially since they are likely to have far fewer seats than Macron’s centrist forces did before the dissolution of the National Assembly a few weeks ago.

Theoretically, a coalition of left and center forces is also possible. However, the left-wing alliance has already clearly rejected such an alliance.

There are no precise guidelines for this. Macron could also wait until after the parliamentary summer recess to appoint a prime minister. However, the newly elected parliament will meet for its first session on July 18. The president of parliament will be elected. The following day, decisions will be made about the vice presidents and the composition of committees.

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President Macron has begun talks to form a government. (Source: Mohammed Badra/EPA POOL/AP/dpa/dpa-bilder)

If none of the political camps gains an absolute majority or is able to form a government in a coalition or with tolerance, Macron can ask Prime Minister Gabriel Attal to remain in office as a caretaker government with the current government, despite Attal’s announcement of his resignation. This transition period could last several weeks, also with a view to the Olympic Games, which start in Paris on July 26, and the political summer break. Macron could then form a technical government made up of experts, senior administrative staff and economists. A dissolution of parliament and new elections will not be possible for another year.

What are the effects on Germany and Europe?

That is not clear. The left-wing alliance has so far left the question of leadership open and has no common program. It is therefore not yet clear what policies it will implement if it comes to power. What is certain, however, is that the alliance, apart from a few parts on the left, is clearly pro-European and is also firmly committed to supporting Ukraine against the Russian war of aggression.

If there is a political deadlock in France, Berlin and Brussels would no longer be able to rely on France as a strong partner. The country would be more focused on administration than on initiating new projects.

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Marine Le Pen sees her party on the road to success despite the election results. (Source: Louise Delmotte/AP/dpa-bilder)

Even if the Rassemblement National did not become the strongest force as predicted and could even end up behind the presidential camp, Marine Le Pen’s party has made significant gains in the National Assembly. It is more strongly represented there than ever before. This increases the party’s influence in parliamentary work and it receives more money from party financing, which it can use to prepare for the 2027 presidential election and the next parliamentary election, which will take place at the latest then.

Whether Macron will be able to salvage anything of his original claim as France’s reformer and advocate of a strong Europe will become clear in the coming days and weeks. If, contrary to overwhelming expectations, he succeeds in using tactics and concessions to put together a majority capable of governing in the long term with the participation of his government camp, he may still get off lightly. However, since it has already been impossible to forge a coalition in the past two years under much clearer power relations, Macron’s remaining term in office will probably consist more of managing unstable conditions and stagnation in France. He would be weakened in domestic and foreign policy. Although a victory for the right-wing nationalists was prevented in the parliamentary elections, Macron has done more harm than good to himself and his legacy through the new election.