This article is based on content originally published on our partner platform Seerist, the augmented analytics solution for threat and risk intelligence professionals. 

The New Popular Front (NFP) alliance of left-wing parties on 7 July took the most seats (182) in the second round of snap legislative elections in France. The centrist/centre-right presidential majority came second with 168. 

  • No party, alliance or grouping of parties has enough seats to form a majority government (289), meaning the next government is likely to be unstable and vulnerable to confidence votes.
  • The next government is likely to be a centre-left administration based on an arrangement between the presidential majority and parts or all the NFP. This is likely to prove a difficult relationship, however, and policymaking will be strained.
  • The government will struggle to tackle high levels of government debt, placing strains on investor confidence.
  • The far-right National Rally (RN), including its allies, came third with 143 seats – marking its highest ever score. This is likely to embolden far-right militant violence in the coming months.

Surprise outcome

The second round of the elections saw the NFP perform significantly better than projections, while the RN and its allies underperformed. This was due to the success of an agreement between the NFP, the presidential majority, and parts of the centre-right Republicans (LR) to vote tactically to block the RN after it topped the first round with 33.14% of the vote. 

There is no single party, alliance or obvious grouping of parties that won enough seats to form a government. 

With the remainder of the LR that did not join with the RN taking just 46 seats, and other right-wing parties taking only 14 seats, a centre-right bloc supporting the presidential majority (168) would fall far short of the 289 seats that a minority government would need to survive a confidence vote. The same applies for the  unlikely scenario of an agreement between the centre-right and the far-right. The presidential majority is very unlikely to cooperate with the RN, having worked with the NFP to prevent the party from winning more seats during the election. 

The only combination left providing a majority is an agreement between elements of, or all, the NFP and the presidential majority. 

The presidential majority is likely to propose a new government with significant concessions to the left. Alternatively, the NFP may propose a candidate who will moderate the alliance’s left-wing platform in exchange for the support of the presidential majority, which is nominally centrist but leans centre-right on most issues. Negotiations will now begin between the various parties to form a government. 

Unstable and slow

Whatever the exact outcome of this process, the next government will be broadly moderate, and centre-left. Lacking a majority in government and amid a highly polarised political atmosphere, it will be vulnerable to confidence votes. Policymaking will likely be slow and strained by the need to secure consensus from a range of divergent parties. This will require a strong and pragmatic candidate for prime minister who is able to manage the broad range of opinions. 

The next government will likely struggle to rein in France’s soaring public debt, which stood at 110% of GDP at the end of 2023 according to the European Commission. With the NFP running on increasing spending (to be funded through some tax raises), the austerity policy that the presidential majority will want to implement is unlikely to succeed. This will likely affect investor confidence. 

Far-right emboldened 

Despite its lower than projected seat count, the RN still took a record number of seats in parliament, and votes. This will likely embolden violent far-right actors. The coming months are likely to see an uptick in violent incidents, particularly those targeting LGBTQ+ individuals, as well as those perceived as being of African or North Africa descent, posing threats to individuals from these groups. 

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