The Political Situation in France is not as Alarming as it Sounds

It is challenging. Not Alarming.

Shankar Narayan
4 min readJun 10, 2024
Oh, France (Licensed Image)

If you read the news coming out of Europe, it will probably make you feel more isolated and nativist than ever before. The far right is surging. Europe is veering to the right. France’s far-right radical leader Marine Le Pen is on the rise. President Macron has dissolved the parliament to call for a snap election after his party scored half of what the right-wingers achieved in the European Parliament elections.

All of that is true.

However, the insinuation that Europe is on the verge of falling into the far-right nativist trap is not.

By 5 PM yesterday, the turnout in France was 45.26%. The turnout during the French Presidential election held in 2022 was 72%. The composition of people who vote in national elections is very different from the composition of people who vote in the European Parliamentary elections.

Turnout has always been a problem for European Parliamentary elections. In 2019, the turnout for EU Parliamentary elections was 50.6%. The combined 2019 turnout for national elections held in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain was 86%.

2019: 50.6% vs 86.5%

People don’t come out to select their representatives for the European Parliament. This is something the sane heads in the EU need to find a way to fix. They either need to rally the people and make them understand the importance of voting or find a way to time it with national elections in their respective countries. Continuously asking them to vote in so many different elections will only create unnecessary political problems, such as the one we are witnessing in France today.

Thanks to low turnout in the EU Parliament elections held in France, the National Rally, led by Marine Le Pen, won 31.5 percent of the vote, more than twice the 14.7 percent won by Macron’s liberal Renaissance party.

As a result, the right in Europe has won the headlines. Paper after paper keeps talking about Europe’s leap towards the right. The media has already breathed significant momentum behind them. The right-wingers immediately tried to turn the tables on Macron by asking him to dissolve the French Parliament.

The idea was to make it look like he had lost his support and his party no longer had the mandate. By continuously attacking the President’s party, they hoped to ride the momentum all the way to the French Presidential election in 2027.

Macron called this bluff by immediately calling for an election. This is not a Presidential election; Macron’s term ends in 2027. However, the French people will have to vote to elect their representatives for the French Parliament.

The 5th Republic differs significantly from the systems in most countries. With 577 députés, each elected by a single-member constituency through a two-round system, a majority requires 289 seats. This two-round system often presents challenges for populist candidates.

In a head-to-head challenge with more voters expected to turn out, the French right will struggle to score wins across the board. And if they fail to prove that they can win across the country, then the momentum they have gathered in the last 24 hours will be lost.

Is this momentum so important that President Macron had to call for a snap election?

I think it is.

From here on out, the far right will keep telling the French people that they are the ones with the mandate, not President Macron. They will not talk about lower turnout; they will emphasize their win. They will keep saying that France is headed in the wrong direction, that the country does not need the EU, and that they have the mandate to change this direction.

They will continue to build on this momentum, and by the time we get to the French Presidential election in 2027, they might be in a much stronger position to win it.

If President Macron’s party loses this election, scheduled for June 30 and July 7, he will be significantly weakened — more so than he is today. But Macron is making a bet that this will not happen. All he needs to do is to find that 30% who did not come out to vote yesterday and get them to the polling booth, which his party will undoubtedly try to do.

President Macron has rolled the dice. Now he has to get down to the mat and bring it home.


Challenging. Not alarming.

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Shankar Narayan

He didn't care what he had or what he had left, he cared only about what he must do.