French voters are returning to the polls for the fourth time in two months as legislative elections end on Sunday, hot on the heels of April’s presidential vote. Some 48.5 million voters are registered to vote in 572 polls across the country, with results expected after polls close at 8 p.m. Paris time on Sunday evening. UKTN lays out the key figures to keep in mind as France wraps up the 2022 election season.
52.49% abstention in the first round
A total of 25,696,476 registered voters – 52.49% of the total – chose to stay away in the first round of these legislative elections, which ended last Sunday. According to figures from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, based in Stockholm.
How turnout in the second round and how it evolves will be a crucial factor for Sunday’s final results. Significantly, abstention does not cut the votes cast for each party equally. The demographics of voter turnout tend to work in favor of Emmanuel Macron and his centre-right Ensemble! (“Together!”), while its main challengers – Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s pan-leftist NUPES coalition and Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party – are generally more vulnerable to turnout problems as their support young and more working-class tend to present themselves in a lower proportion at the polls.
Bringing last weekend’s abstainers to the polls this weekend is especially critical for NUPES, the alliance made up of Mélenchon’s far-left, La France Insoumise (“La France insoumise” or LFI), the French Communist Party, Socialist Party and Greens. (EELV). With leftists having managed to agree on this broad coalition before the first round, there is very little support left to garner from voters who did not already support NUPES at the time. His best bets for more are to tease Anybody-But-Macron crowd support and first-round no-shows.
289 seats for an absolute majority
The prevailing figure in these elections, quite literally, is 289 – the number of seats needed to secure an absolute majority in the 577-seat National Assembly. For the first time in 25 years, reaching this number will be a real challenge for the side of the French president, in this case the centre-right alliance of Macron Ensemble!.
Macron’s La République en Marche (“Republic on the Move” or LREM) party alone won 306 seats in 2017, with its centrist ally Modem paying off with 42 additional seats. But those days of dominance are now on the brink.
>> Explanation: How do legislative elections work in France?
After narrowly missing out on a place in the presidential final in April, left-wing flag bearer Mélenchon spent two months lobbying voters to give his NUPES coalition a majority and, at least indirectly, give him the job. as prime minister instead. While 289 seats remain a bit far for the left (the Ipsos-Sopra Steria pollster projects something within the limits of 150-190 for NUPES), Qu’Ensemble! may obtain a new absolute majority, or simply relative, may be the biggest question mark of the night. Ipsos projects the most likely centre-right haul at between 255 and 295 seats.
An absolute legislative majority, which Macron enjoyed in his first presidential term, would allow him to advance his political agenda virtually unhindered. A relative majority, or a suspended parliament – unusual in France and unseen since 1991 – would complicate matters for Macron, requiring reaching out to other parties by entering into a coalition, for example, with the conservative Les Républicains or by negotiating majorities one by one for each bill. While the search for parliamentary consensus is natural in some EU countries, it is not rooted in French political culture and makes political stalemate more likely, as the center-right camp has sought to point out. during the election campaign all week. (Macron would retain the right to call early legislative elections – although potentially at his peril.)
>> Macron or chaos: France’s ruling party signals red threat in close election
In a televised address on the tarmac before setting off for Eastern Europe on Tuesday, Macron called for votes, saying it was “in the nation’s best interest” to give him “a solid majority ‘in the lower house’ in these troubled times. ‘Nothing would be worse than adding French disorder to global disorder,’ he said.
NUPES leaders hit back, saying Macron’s comments betrayed his “arrogance” and a sense of “panic”. Mélenchon called the president’s call to the tarmac a “Trump sketch.”
voting margin of 21,359
Sunday’s first round officially ended with the centre-right Ensemble leading the vote tally, edging out the pan-leftist NUPES by just 21,359 votes out of 23.2 million voters.
NUPES came top of Ensemble in a (minor) column when the elections opened on Sunday: four NUPES candidates were elected in the first round – three in the Parisian arrondissements and one in neighboring Seine-Saint-Denis – while Ensemble only bagged a seat in the first round. at night, in the north-west of Mayenne. Three other NUPES candidates are guaranteed seats in the second round after their only opponents withdrew their bid this week.
Winning a district in the first round is no small feat (only four achieved this in 2017). It must obtain more than 50% of the votes and the support of at least 25% of the registered voters. The far-right stalwart of the Le Pen National Rally is a candidate who has come closer this time: in the running for re-election, she won 53.96% of the vote in the first round, but did not reach the quota of registered voters due to low turnout. Le Pen will face a NUPES candidate for the northern Pas-de-Calais seat on Sunday.
Sixty-one districts will oppose the left to the extreme right
Indeed, Le Pen district is just one of 61 that will see a far-right National Rally candidate face off against a NUPES candidate on Sunday night. This prospect has proven difficult for Macron’s Ensemble camp. As first-round results rolled in on election night, the centre-right heavyweights betrayed some ambivalence on TV shows about who to back in those races.
For 20 years in France, the convention has been that the traditional parties put aside their animosities and unite to keep the far right out of power whenever the opportunity arises. This tradition, known as Republican Front, has faltered lately. But voters on the left argue they helped Macron’s re-election against Le Pen in April on that basis and bristle at his camp’s apparent reluctance to reciprocate now.
>> Prizes abound for Le Pen’s far-right in historic French legislative election
Government spokeswoman Olivia Grégoire sought to set the record straight on Monday morning. She suggested that Ensemble’s ambivalence was due to “very few” far-left NUPES candidates – fewer “than could be counted on a single hand”.
“Let’s be clear,” Grégoire said. “Not a single vote for the National Rally.”
Whether that counts as a ringing endorsement in the context of record abstention is another matter.
Achievements unlocked: 15, 58, 60, 185…
After qualifying for the second round in 206 constituencies, the National Rally is expected to win more than enough seats to form an official parliamentary group for the first time since 1986, when a proportional representation experiment gave the National Party some founder Jean-Marie Le Pen Front and his allies 35 seats. The Ipsos-Sopra Steria pollsters project that Marine Le Pen’s far right could win between 20 and 45 seats, compared to eight in 2017.
The threshold for a parliamentary caucus — which brings more speaking time to the House, public funding to hire parliamentary staff and better access to parliamentary facilities — is 15 seats.
>> How legislative elections in France play a crucial role in party financing
Beyond these bases, a higher number of seats sweetens the privileges available. A minimum of 58 deputies is required to issue a motion of censure, which provokes a debate in the room and leads to a vote. The threshold for contesting a law by referral to the Constitutional Council is 60 deputies. Finally, no less than 185 deputies are required to request that a question be submitted to a nationwide shared initiative referendum.
The positions of three ministers at stake
Fifteen government ministers, more than half of the 28 appointed last month after Macron’s re-election, put their ministerial posts on the line by throwing their hats into the parliamentary ring. By convention, an incumbent minister who stands for election and loses must resign from the government post. Most of the candidates in this election – led by Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne, candidate in Calvados – have advanced comfortably and should win their pro-Macron constituencies on Sunday.
But three, in particular, face tough second-round duels against NUPES candidates who far exceeded their first-round scores: Public Services Minister and Macron’s LREM leader Stanislas Guerini and Minister Delegate for Europe Clément Beaune, both in the running. in Paris, and the Minister of Ecological Transition Amélie de Montchalin, who presents herself in the suburb of Essonne to the south of the French capital.
The weather may arguably be a factor whenever voters are called to the polls on a spring weekend for the fourth time in a row. But France’s spring 2022 election season is winding down with the country bracing for a record-breaking early heat wave. The Météo-France weather service warns of temperatures never before recorded in a French month of June. The mercury is expected to climb to between 35 and 40°C across much of mainland France, with a swath of southwestern central France expected to see 40 to 42°C.
That heat is expected to break by Sunday, the day voters in mainland France head to the polls. But how the scorching weather will affect turnout in the second round – from preventing candidates from shaking hands and kissing babies to rekindling climate concerns – will be another factor to draw from. numbers as they arrive on Sunday evening.