The French called to the polls: abstention as an arbiter of the legislative elections

The French vote on Sunday in the first round of the legislative elections, marked at midday by a strong abstention which could arbitrate the confrontation between the coalition supporting Emmanuel Macron, in search of an absolute majority, and the revived left behind Jean-Luc Mélenchon .

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SAccording to the latest polls before the election, the left-wing Nupes alliance (LFI, PCF, PS and EELV) is neck and neck in voting intentions with Together!, a macronist coalition of LREM / Renaissance, MoDem and d ‘Horizons.

Turnout stood at 18.43% of the 48 million voters at noon, a figure down 0.8 points from 2017 when it stood at 19.24%, and 2.5 points legislative elections of 2012 at the same time (21.06%). It is also down sharply compared to the first round of the 2022 presidential election at the same time (25.48%), but much higher than that of the departmental and regional elections of 2021 (12.22%).

In Puy-de-Dôme, in the village of Saint-Georges-de-Mons, Frédéric Cordoba, 36, and Audrey Mertz, 39, voted for the first time in their lives in the presidential election and are doing it again for these legislative: “We decided to vote because life has become too hard and we hope that will change things. We both work, we have three children and with the decline in purchasing power we can barely make ends meet”. For Henri Muceli, 53, who came by bike to his polling station in Thionville (Moselle), voting should be made “compulsory as in Belgium”: voting “is a duty, so you can say what you think about the instead of criticizing in a vacuum.

A relative majority?

The latest polls published on Friday place Together! in the lead in number of deputies, but not necessarily with the absolute majority -289 seats out of 577- that macronie held in the previous National Assembly elected in 2017. If Mr. Macron only obtained a relative majority, he would be forced to deal with the other parliamentary groups to have its legislation approved.

If, in the least likely scenario, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Nupes won an absolute majority, Emmanuel Macron would be deprived of practically all his powers. It is with this objective in mind that Mr. Mélenchon kept repeating that he wanted to make these legislative elections “a third round” which would allow him to be “elected Prime Minister”.

Mr. Macron has chosen to pose, as during the presidential election, as a bulwark against “the extremes”. Including Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, fifteen members of the government are in the running for the legislative elections and will have to leave the executive in the event of defeat, in accordance with an unwritten rule but already applied in 2017 by Mr. Macron.

The right and the extreme right in bad shape

After Marine Le Pen garnered more than 40% of the votes in the second round of the presidential election, the National Rally is, according to the latest polls, outdistanced by Nupes and Together! for legislative purposes. However, he could obtain between 20 and 40 deputies, against eight elected in 2017, and thus form a parliamentary group for the first time since 1986.

The ex-extreme right presidential candidate Éric Zemmour also nourishes, in the Var, the hope of being elected deputy.

Finally, these legislative elections promise to be at very high risk for the traditional right of the Republicans (LR), whose candidate Valérie Pécresse obtained less than 5% of the votes in the presidential election.

Nearly 6,300 candidates are running for the 577 seats. Those who will not be elected on Sunday evening will have to, to access the second round of June 19, either arrive in the first two in their constituency, or obtain the votes of 12.5% ​​of registered voters.

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