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

President Emmanuel Macron on 9 June called surprise snap parliamentary elections for 30 June and 7 July following his Renaissance party’s poor performance in European Parliament elections. The far-right National Rally (RN) performed very strongly in those elections and is projected to be the largest party in the next parliament. We examine the potential consequences of this decision. 

  • The surprise move has ushered in a period of greater political uncertainty and instability. This is likely to negatively impact the policy-making environment, which has already faced a slowdown over the past two years due to the government’s weak position. 
  • The next government is likely to be at odds ideologically with the president and will have to rely on a shaky support arrangement from all centrist parties and face regular confidence votes, or, in a less likely scenario, be led by a far-right prime minister. 
  • The government will struggle to tackle France’s soaring public debt, with little political support for cutting spending, which is likely to negatively impact investor sentiment. Meanwhile, France’s position on key EU legislation could shift erratically, reducing certainty over overall EU policies going forwards, given France’s outsized influence within the bloc. The situation also risks undermining united European efforts to support Ukraine.  
  • Coming only weeks before the start of the Olympic Games in Paris, the probable change in interior minister – responsible for domestic security – as well as likely strong opposition to the success of the far-right will result in increased security challenges over the coming months. 

Shock move

The snap parliamentary elections announcement followed a poor performance by his centrist Renaissance party in the 9 June European Parliament elections and a strong performance by the far-right RN, which took 31.7% of the vote. Renaissance came second with just 14.6%. The centre-left Socialist Party (PS) took 13.8%, with no other party taking more than 10% of the vote. 

While the European parliamentary elections saw a typically low turnout (around 50%, compared with around 70% typically for national elections), polls suggest that the results will largely be repeated at the national level. The RN is therefore also forecast to perform strongly in the upcoming elections. 

Macron’s mandate will not be affected – his term ends in 2027 when the next presidential election takes place. Macron cannot stand again. While the president selects the prime minister (who is the head of government), that person also needs to be able to command the support of a majority parliament to avoid a confidence vote. There is therefore potential for the president and prime minister to hail from two different parties with different ideologies –known as cohabitation. This has happened on a small number of occasions in modern times. The last time this occurred was between 1997 and 2002, when the president was centre-right Jacques Chirac and the prime minister was centre-left Lionel Jospin. Since then, presidential terms have been shortened from seven to five years, and presidential elections occur simultaneously with parliamentary elections, reducing the potential for the situation. 

Following the announcement, left-wing parties of all shades have formed a united front, while the RN and far-right party Reconquest dramatically failed to reach an agreement. Prominent Reconquest member Marion Maréchal, niece of the head of the RN, called on Reconquest members to support the RN, leading the head of Reconquest to accuse her of betraying his party. Eric Ciotti, the head of the centre-right Republicans on 11 June called for his party to support the far-right RN before being removed by the party’s governing body on 12 June following widespread criticism from the party that the move would have aligned it with the far-right. Meanwhile, rumours circulated the country on 11 June that Macron was looking to resign having realised the enormity of his decision to call snap elections. According to the rumours, he was talked down by his advisers. However, Macron in a press conference on 12 June denied these claims. 


As with the 2022 elections, no party or bloc is likely to secure enough seats to form a majority government, although some polls give the RN an outside chance of doing so. The next government is highly likely to require some form of negotiation between different parties. In the event that the RN secures enough votes to come close to forming a government, it will potentially be able to secure support from dissident members of the Republicans to secure a majority or argue that no other government is feasible. 

Current polling suggests that the united left bloc will be the second largest in parliament after the RN – the next government may also conceivably be a left-wing government that can cobble together support from the Republicans and Macron’s centrist Renaissance. Macron will likely push for support from centrist parties to put forwards a candidate of his choosing for prime minister, but the parties would be unlikely to provide their support as his party is projected to perform very poorly. 

If the new prime minister is supported by centrist parties, this will mean that the government is subject to regular confidence votes and will have to engage in complex consensus-building every time it seeks to pass legislation that is even remotely divisive. A far-right government with a parliamentary majority would find itself at odds ideologically with the president, who would likely use his position to undermine its policy plans. A similar but less dramatic situation would likely occur between a left-wing prime minister and the president. 

In all cases, this will result in heightened political uncertainty and instability. It will also result in backtracking and changes to announced policy plans amid repeated negotiating and consensus building, creating regulatory uncertainty for businesses. 

With France’s far-right and far-left parties surging in support and the political landscape becoming increasingly fragmented (with no party projected to receive much more than 30% of the vote), this uncertainty is likely to continue for years to come. Since the start of his second term in 2022, Macron had already been struggling with his lack of majority in parliament, making the passage of legislation difficult. 

Source: Poll conducted for BFMTV and La Tribune Dimanche by pollster Elabe


The new government will struggle to tackle France’s soaring debt. France is struggling to rein in its mounting public debt, at around 110% of GDP in 2023. The government deficit was at 5.5% in 2023 and is forecast to remain above 4% in the coming years, above the European average of 3.5% in 2023. In June, credit ratings agency S&P downgraded France’s credit rating to AA-. While this is still one of its best, the move reflects concerns. The government has sought to introduce austerity measures since the start of the year, but progress has been limited. Going forwards, the passage of effective and unpopular austerity measures will be difficult against a background of complex consensus building. The RN has promised an expansive spending programme should it come to power, making effective austerity unlikely. This has been contributing to investor caution since the announcement. France Unbowed (LFI), the largest member of the left-wing alliance, has also campaigned on massive investment. The RN has also promised to walk back some of the Macron government’s liberal reforms, such as changing the age of retirement, that are unpopular among significant swathes of voters but that have played well with investors. 

France internationally 

The domestic political uncertainty will likely reduce France’s effectiveness at the EU level in particular. With either potential for regular changes in government or discordance between the government and the president, France will be less coherent and effective in pushing through its aims. It will likely also become a less reliable partner to other member states. As a result, France’s position on key EU legislation could shift erratically, reducing certainty over overall EU policy going forwards, particularly given France’s outsized influence within the bloc. The RN and the LFI are also Euro-sceptic parties. While neither would be likely to structurally change France’s relationship with the bloc should they become involved in government, the RN would be likely to seek to rework elements of France’s relationship with the EU, likely to the detriment of France’s position in the bloc. The situation also risks undermining united European efforts to support Ukraine. The RN and elements of the left-wing alliance oppose the degree of France’s support. 

Olympic Games 

Meanwhile, the move comes just weeks before the start of the July-September Olympic Games, which will be hosted in Paris. The election therefore also holds potential to heighten security risks in France in the coming months. The likely change in interior minister, who is responsible for domestic security, risks disrupting France’s large security deployment ahead of the games. However, strong institutional strength will limit the disruption. More crucially, there is strong potential for protest action following the likely strong performance of the far-right, which could result in disruption during the games. Paris is set to receive 15m visitors over the course of the Olympics – Paris generally sees around 22m visitors in a typical year, according to the city government. 

In addition, if France has a far-right prime minister, this will probably embolden far-right elements within the police. This would result in greater potential for incidents of police violence, increasing the potential for protest and civil unrest. 

Amid heightened security concerns and actions that appear to be attempts by hostile state actors to carry out disinformation operations to undermine the perception of the games in France, the coming months could well see the political turmoil spill over into the streets, causing major disruption. 


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