France Elections: A Country Turning Right Despite Left Victory

The 2024 French legislative elections have yielded surprising results, revealing a complex and fragmented political landscape. Despite the victory of the New Popular Front, a left-wing coalition led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, analysis of the electoral data reveals that France seems to be veering to the right. This paradox highlights the tensions and challenges that await the new government.

According to data from the Ministry of the Interior, the final results of the legislative elections are as follows: the New Popular Front won 182 seats, Ensemble, the outgoing government majority, won 168 seats, and the Rassemblement National won 143 seats. In addition, the Républicains and several right-wing candidates won 60 seats, several left-wing candidates won 13 seats, several centrist candidates won 6 seats, the Regionalists won 4 seats, and finally one seat went to independent candidates.

These numbers reflect a complex distribution of power that makes it difficult to form an absolute majority, which is necessary to govern with stability. The New Popular Front, despite having obtained the largest number of seats, is far from the 289 seats needed for an absolute majority. This situation forces parties to consider alliances and coalitions, further complicating the political picture.

Although the New Popular Front triumphed in terms of seats, Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National obtained the largest number of votes overall, with 8,745,240 votes, or 32.05%. This figure is significant, considering that in the first round on Sunday 30 June, the RN had already received 9,379,092 votes, representing 29.25%. The New Popular Front collected 7,005,514 votes, equivalent to 25.68%, compared to 8,995,226 votes in the first round, representing 28.06%. Ensemble, the coalition led by Emmanuel Macron, obtained 6,314,418 votes, or 23.14%, compared to 6,425,707 votes in the first round, representing 20.04%. Finally, the Republicans received 1,474,648 votes, corresponding to 5.41%, compared to 2,106,166 votes in the first round, which represented 6.57%.

This scenario shows that, although the left has won a majority of seats, Le Pen’s far right continues to enjoy broad popular support, suggesting that France is moving politically to the right. The RN’s ability to collect a significant number of votes is a warning sign for other parties and indicates a growing polarization in the country.

The new French Parliament has significant differences compared to the previous legislature in terms of seat distribution. The New Popular Front has gone from 133 seats in the previous legislature to the current 182 seats, marking an increase of 49 seats. Ensemble, on the other hand, has suffered a significant loss, going from 254 seats in the previous legislature to the current 168 seats, with a decrease of 86 seats. The Rassemblement National has seen a substantial growth, going from 90 seats previously to the current 143 seats, with an increase of 53 seats. Finally, the Républicains have seen a decrease, going from 85 seats in the previous legislature to the current 60 seats, with a loss of 25 seats.
This new parliamentary composition reflects a significant growth of the New Popular Front and the National Rally, while Macron’s centrist coalition has suffered a considerable loss of seats. The growth in seats for the New Popular Front indicates greater support for left-wing policies, but the increase in seats for the RN also reveals a strong tilt towards the far right. This dichotomy presents a challenge for the formation of a stable government, as no bloc has achieved the absolute majority needed to govern autonomously.

The need to form coalitions to reach the 289 seats required for an absolute majority makes the French political landscape extremely uncertain. Emmanuel Macron, the outgoing president, finds himself in a delicate position. His coalition, Ensemble, has lost a significant number of seats, down to 168, and must now consider possible alliances. However, the opposition between Macron and Mélenchon makes a coalition between Ensemble and the New Popular Front unlikely.
Political uncertainty is further accentuated by the position of the Rassemblement National. With 143 seats, Le Pen has consolidated her role as a significant political force, but her extreme right makes alliances with other major parties difficult. This fragmentation could lead to a stalemate, with the risk of political instability and the possibility of new elections if a government cannot be formed.