France 2024 Election Live: Political Deadlock Ahead as Leftwing Coalition Wins Most Seats

France 2024 Election Live: Political Deadlock Ahead as Leftwing Coalition Wins Most Seats

A left-wing alliance has emerged victorious in the French parliamentary elections, securing the most seats and thwarting Marine Le Pen’s far-right party. However, France now faces a political deadlock as no party has achieved an absolute majority. The New Popular Front (NFP), a coalition of parties ranging from the far-left France Unbowed to the more moderate Socialists and Ecologists, won 182 seats in the National Assembly. This makes it the largest group but still short of the 289 seats required for an absolute majority, according to the French Interior Ministry.

President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Ensemble alliance, which had a poor showing in the first round of voting, managed a strong recovery to win 163 seats. Despite leading after the first round, Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally (RN) and its allies secured 143 seats. The RN’s strong performance in the first round had raised fears of a potential far-right government, but the final results indicate a clear desire among French voters to prevent the far right from gaining power, even at the cost of a hung parliament.

Following the first round, over 300 seats went to a three-way runoff between Ensemble, the NFP, and the RN. By Tuesday, more than 200 centrist and left-wing candidates had withdrawn from the second round to avoid splitting the vote. Cheers erupted on the streets of Paris as the projection was published. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of France Unbowed, addressed a crowd of jubilant supporters near Stalingrad square, calling the results a “huge relief for the overwhelming majority of people in our country.”

Gabriel Attal, Macron’s protege, announced his resignation as prime minister, seemingly criticizing Macron’s decision to call the snap vote. Meanwhile, the atmosphere at an RN campaign event in Bois de Vincennes turned somber as the projection was announced. Jordan Bardella, the party’s leader, expressed disappointment and criticized the NFP as an “alliance of dishonor.”

In a brief statement, the Elysee said Macron is awaiting the full results of all 577 constituencies before making any decisions. The French president typically appoints a prime minister from the party that won the most seats, but Sunday’s results mean Macron may have to appoint a figure from the left-wing coalition, a rare arrangement known as “cohabitation.” Mélenchon has called on Macron to allow the New Popular Front to govern.

It remains unclear which party within the coalition will provide the prime minister. France Unbowed won 74 seats, making it the largest single party within the NFP, followed by the Socialists with 59 seats. Macron and his allies have repeatedly stated they would refuse to enter into a coalition with Mélenchon. The NFP was formed less than a month ago after Macron called the snap vote following his party’s loss to the RN in the European Parliament election.

The coalition campaigned on a platform to raise the minimum monthly wage, cap the price of essential goods, and scrap Macron’s unpopular pension reform. Sunday’s vote represents a victory for the French “cordon sanitaire,” the principle that mainstream parties must unite to block the far right from taking office. However, the RN’s success should not be underestimated. In the 2017 elections, the RN won just eight seats. In 2022, it surged to 89 seats, and in Sunday’s vote, it won 125 seats, making it the largest individual party in parliament.

While the risk of a far-right government has been avoided for now, these elections have plunged France into political uncertainty. Macron called the election three years earlier than necessary, just minutes after his party was defeated by the far right in the EU election. Although EU election results do not necessarily impact domestic politics, Macron said he could not ignore the message sent by voters and wanted to clarify the situation.

Sunday’s results may further complicate the French political landscape. Unable to call a new election for at least another year, and with three years left in his presidential term, Macron faces the prospect of presiding over an unruly parliament. Édouard Philippe, France’s former prime minister and an ally of Macron, said the election has led to greater vagueness rather than clarity.

“The truth is that none of the political blocs in the assembly has a majority on its own to govern. The dissolution of the assembly, which was intended as a clarification, has instead led to great vagueness,” Philippe said. “The central political forces therefore have a responsibility to stay. They must, without compromise, promote the creation of an agreement that will stabilize the political situation.”

The leftist coalition’s victory in the 2024 French legislative election has beaten back a far-right surge but failed to win a majority, leaving France facing the prospect of a hung parliament and potential political paralysis. With Macron saying he’ll “wait” to make decisions on a new government, France now faces weeks of political maneuvering to determine who will be prime minister and lead the National Assembly.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a long-time figure on the left, has become a central figure in this political drama. He founded the hard-left France Unbowed party in 2016 and allied with the Socialists, Communists, and Greens to form the New Popular Ecological and Social Union. Despite being a divisive figure, Mélenchon’s alliance has managed to win the largest number of seats.

The final results from the second round show the leftist coalition taking the most seats in parliament, with Macron’s centrists and Le Pen’s far-right National Rally following. The unpopular Macron will now have to form alliances to run the government. Many voters prioritized keeping the far right from power over other considerations.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal plans to offer his resignation, and Macron could seek a deal with the moderate left to create a joint government. However, France has no tradition of such arrangements, and any deal would likely be fragile. If no deal is reached, Macron could name a government of experts unaffiliated with political parties, but this would require parliamentary approval. The first session with new members of the 577-seat National Assembly is scheduled for July 18.

As France faces an unprecedented political situation, the country is also preparing to host the world for the Paris Olympics. The weakened Macron must navigate this complex political landscape to ensure stability and effective governance.

Source: CNN, AP News

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