Macron dissolves Parliament after far-right triumph in EU vote

In a televised address, Macron stated, “I have decided to give you back the choice of your parliamentary future by voting. I am therefore dissolving the National Assembly this evening.” The first round of the new elections is set for June 30, with the second round on July 7.

| Updated: 10 June, 2024 2:36 pm IST
French President Emmanuel Macron has dissolved the National Assembly and called for snap legislative elections.

NEW DELHI: French President Emmanuel Macron has dissolved the National Assembly and called for snap legislative elections after a crushing defeat to the far-right National Rally (RN) in the European parliamentary elections.

The RN, led by Jordan Bardella, secured 31.5% of the vote, significantly outpacing Macron’s Renaissance party, which garnered only 15.2%.

In a televised address, Macron stated, “I have decided to give you back the choice of your parliamentary future by voting. I am therefore dissolving the National Assembly this evening.” The first round of the new elections is set for June 30, with the second round on July 7.

The dramatic move followed Bardella’s triumphant speech, where he declared, “This unprecedented defeat for the current government marks the end of a cycle, and Day 1 of the post-Macron era.” Bardella called on Macron to dissolve the parliament, describing the election outcome as a “stinging disavowal” for the president.

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Marine Le Pen, who has unsuccessfully run against Macron in previous presidential elections, welcomed the decision, asserting, “We are ready to take power if the French place their trust in us.” Le Pen emphasised RN’s readiness to “defend the interests of the French, ready to put an end to mass immigration, ready to make the purchasing power of the French a priority.”

This dissolution marks the first time since 1997 that a French president has taken such a step. The last instance led to a loss for President Jacques Chirac and a victory for the Socialists under Lionel Jospin.

Macron’s Renaissance party struggled to pass legislation even before this latest setback, often invoking Article 49.3 of the French constitution to push through bills without a parliamentary vote. His administration’s unpopularity has been exacerbated by this approach, alongside contentious reforms and economic challenges.

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The RN’s strong showing in the EU elections is attributed to their stance on issues like immigration and EU regulations. Bardella campaigned for national border controls and reducing EU climate rules, aiming to weaken the EU from within rather than advocating for France’s exit from the union.

France’s left-wing politicians reacted to Macron’s announcement with calls for unity. François Ruffin, a far-left leader, urged all left-wing groups to form a “Popular Front” to counter the far-right’s rise.

As the legislative elections approach, Macron’s future governance hangs in the balance. Should RN secure a parliamentary majority, France could see a shift towards far-right policies, with the potential for Marine Le Pen or Jordan Bardella to take significant government roles.

This scenario raises the possibility of “cohabitation,” where Macron would have to appoint a prime minister from the opposing party, complicating his ability to govern effectively.

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