A tale of two coalitions: first round of the French legislative elections

by Armand Peltereau-Villeneuve

 

Macron’s and Mélenchon’s coalitions neck and neck for June 19th second round 

At country level, presidential coalition Ensemble and left-wing coalition NUPES are neck and neck in the ballot boxes, with 25.75% and 25.66% (source: Ministry of the Interior) or 25.80% and 26.10% of votes (source: Le Monde) respectively. The left-wing coalition thus asserts itself as the first opposition group, qualified in 385 districts out of 577. The share of seats at the National Assembly spread between it and the presidential coalition will depend on the results of the second round held on June 19th, but pollsters estimate NUPES could get 150 to 200 seats, while the presidential bloc could obtain 250 to 290. As of now, it is thus still hard to tell whether President Macron’s coalition will obtain an absolute majority in parliament (289 seats). If not, it will have to look for support in other parties, possibly the right-wing LR and the moderate left, to pass bills. Likewise, NUPES’ leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon is very unlikely to be “elected” Prime minister, as was put forward in the coalition’s arguments, a strategy building up on his good score in the presidential race.


The right struggles to build support (except for the RN)  

Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National (RN, far-right) ends in third position with 18.61% of votes at country level. While it clearly does not have the weight of the left-wing coalition, it steadily confirms its place in the political landscape and could get between 25 and 40 seats in parliament. The traditional right-wing party Les Républicains (LR-UDI), on the contrary, appears weaker than ever with 11.31% of votes and a very low number of candidates qualifying for the second round. Such results can be read as a logical follow-up to the presidential elections, in which LR’s Valérie Pécresse secured a mere 3% of votes cast. At last, Eric Zemmour’s far-right movement Reconquête, hailed by some as a renewal of a strong right, lags far behind in polls with 4.25% of votes. Zemmour himself, who has managed to cast controversy all around the country, does not make it to the second round.


Abstention,  

Another force that is to be reckoned with is abstention, which reaches a new high at 52.49%, slightly more than what was observed in 2017 (51.3%). The trends of abstention stand still: the pool of citizens who did not take part into the vote remains particularly strong in the Northeastern and Southeastern (PACA, Corse) parts of the country, in parts of the Parisian region Ile-de-France (East, North, North-east) and in overseas departments. Age is a major factor, as abstention is constantly higher among the youth. 2022 is no exception, as 69% of 18-24 years olds abstained from voting while “only” 52% of 50-59 years olds did. Revenues also have a considerable influence: the lower one’s revenue, the likelier one is to abstain.


The lucky five  

Five fortunate contenders have already secured a seat in the Palais Bourbon, the National Assembly’s building, for the next five years. Those are the candidats who have managed to obtain more than 50% of their district’s votes, a figure amounting to more than 25% of all registered voters. Belong to this category Alexis Corbière (NUPES-LFI, Seine-Saint-Denis 7th), Sophia Chikirou (NUPES-LFI, Paris 6th), Danièle Obono (NUPES-LFI, Paris 17th), Sarah Legrain (NUPES-LFI, Paris 19th) and Yannick Favennec (Ensemble, Mayenne 3rd). While other candidates have also overcome the 50% threshold, the number of votes they gathered did not amount to 25% of registered voters and therefore will have to battle for victory next Sunday.


Republican front against the far-right    

Despite strong discrepancies in both political orientations and a clear opposition on a large number of issues, there is one point on which both coalitions agree: the far-right has to be barred from office. After a moment of hesitation, the government has called for voting against RN candidates in all 61 districts where they will be facing NUPES candidates, while the latter has displayed the same position regarding Ensemble-RN duels – 108 altogether. The historical “Republican front” strategy, aimed at preventing the far right from winning second round duels, may still be alive despite growing criticisms over the past few years.


Ministers at ease…     

All ministers have qualified for the second round, albeit with uneven results. Here are a few interesting cases: Elisabeth Borne, Prime minister, comes first in Calvados 6th district (34.32%), ahead of the NUPES candidate, and the odds are in her favor.

Damien Abad, minister of solidarities, autonomy and persons with disabilities, obtained 33.38% of votes in Ain 5th district, ahead of his NUPES opponent. 

Marc Fesneau, minister of agriculture and food sovereignty, qualifies for the second round in Loir-et-Cher 1st district (31.97%) and will face a NUPES contender. 

Gabriel Attal, minister of public finances, comes ahead in Hauts-de-Seine 10th district (48.06%) against the NUPES candidate. His reelection is highly likely, in a department which massively backed Emmanuel Macron in the presidential race.


… and ministers ill-at-ease     

Despite these achievements, some ministers have secured only a tiny majority, or even ranked second, and could find themselves in more tense situations next weekend.

Brigitte Bourguignon, minister of health and prevention, is qualified in Pas-de-Calais 6th district with 32.10% of votes, ahead of her RN opponent. The duel should be tight, in a region which massively supported Marine Le Pen in the presidential elections.

Clément Beaune, deputy minister in charge of Europe, ranks second in Paris 7th district with 35.81% of votes, behind his NUPES opponent.

Stanislas Guérini, minister of the civil service, ranks second in Paris 3rd district, behind a NUPES opponent. And Amélie de Montchalin, minister of ecological transition, ranks second in Essonne 6th district at 31.46%, behind the NUPES contender.

One may ask why this matters at all, as they are ministers and should not care this much about getting a seat in parliament. And one could not be blamed for asking such a question, as the “deal” is nowhere written: it is a customary rule that all ministers have to run for elections and offer their resignation in case they do not win the race. To conclude: the government’s make up may evolve once again in coming weeks. 

RPP will continue to analyse the results of these elections on the future political and policy landscape and remains committed to helping you understand the impact of the results on your activities. 

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