French Legislative Elections 2024: New Popular Front Leads but No Clear Majority

Eoin Kavanagh
Eoin Kavanagh
Eoin specializes in geopolitical analysis, with degrees in Political Science and Counterterrorism, and extensive international experience, including humanitarian work. Well-acquainted with challenging environments like Bosnia, Eoin primarily focuses on Eastern Europe. His strong OSINT and investigative skills are further enhanced by his proficiency in multiple languages, including rare ones, and his experience in data science and machine learning.

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In the aftermath of the 2024 French legislative elections, no party has secured an absolute majority in the National Assembly, diverging from the traditional French pattern of one party dominating the Parliament.

European Elections Prompted Parliamentary Dissolution

In the recent European Parliament elections, the right-wing populist party Rassemblement National (RN) emerged as the clear leader with 31.5 percent of the vote. This significant lead over other political groups, including the “Besoin d’Europe” coalition led by President Macron’s party at 15.2 percent, marked a notable shift in the French political landscape.

President Macron, citing the need for a clear majority in the French Parliament, dissolved the National Assembly, prompting new legislative elections.

French Legislative Election Outcomes

The left-wing coalition New Popular Front (or Nouveau Front Populaire, NFP) emerged as the front runner with an estimated 182 seats, while the presidential coalition “Ensemble” experienced a significant drop, securing only 163 seats, down from their previous 245. The RN decreased to third place, capturing 143 seats after initially leading in the first round.

Projection of seat distribution in the newly elected French Parliament. CREDIT: Le Monde.

While the formation of a “Republican Front” (a coalition of all French parties against the RN) is not something new in French politics, these results come as a surprise, especially after RN’s results in the European elections and the French legislative election’s first round.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal’s Resignation

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, representing “Ensemble,” announced his resignation effective Monday, July 8, following the elections’ outcome.

This decision comes as “Ensemble” failed to retain its prior majority, and could have faced a “vote of no confidence.” This parliamentary procedure allows members of the legislature to vote on whether they retain confidence in the prime minister and the government’s ability to govern, effectively voting out the Prime Minister if absolute majority is reached.

During his tenure, Attal highlighted that the dissolution of the National Assembly was not by his choice, and emphasized the election’s role in avoiding a potential absolute majority from either the extreme left or right.

Challenges in Appointing a New Prime Minister

As the resignation unfolds, President Emmanuel Macron faces the task of appointing a new Prime Minister. According to the French Constitution, the President has the exclusive power to nominate the Prime Minister without the need for a fixed timeline or parliamentary approval, safe for a vote of no confidence after the appointment of the new Prime Minister.

This means that Macron will need to wait for the final parliamentary composition and alliances before nominating anyone to avoid a vote of no confidence, as it is very unlikely that a stable absolute majority will emerge from the NFP, Ensemble, and RN.

Macron also stated that he will base his decision on the structural composition of the newly elected assembly, exploring options that could include appointing a left-leaning Prime Minister, or potentially maintaining Attal if a viable coalition emerges. Additionally, Macron may consider forming a technical government composed of technocrats selected for their expertise rather than political alignment to efficiently address national challenges amidst deep political divisions, although this approach would still require support from the National Assembly to be effective.

The leaders of the NFP already convened an informal meeting overnight following the election results. Details of the discussions have not been disclosed; however, it is clear that the selection of a potential Prime Minister from the left coalition was a key topic of consideration.