After EU loss, Macron bets on snap elections in France

French President Emmanuel Macron has called parliamentary elections at the very moment he looks weakest. He could regain ground — or simply open the door for the far right. What is Macron playing at?


“It’s a little bit strange,” one passerby, a man called Jean-Paul, told DW in downtown Paris. “It was very surprising that Macron decided to close the parliament. I don’t know what to think.”

Jean-Paul was not alone in his bemusement on Monday. President Emmanuel Macron caught the nation, including many in his own Renaissance party, off guard on Sunday when he dissolved the French Parliament and called snap legislative elections. They will take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7.

The surprise move came after Macron’s staunchly pro-EU Renaissance party, formerly known as La France En Marche! (France on the Move), suffered a wipeout loss to the far-right National Rally (RN) in the European parliamentary elections, which has put him even more on the back foot domestically. The anti-immigration, euroskeptic RN, of which Marine Le Pen was president for 10 years before handing the reins over to its current leader Jordan Bardella in 2022, netted over 30% of votes, compared to 15% for Renaissance.

As the results came in on Sunday night, the French president said “the extreme right is both the impoverishment of the French and the downgrading of our country.

“So, at the end of this day, I cannot act as if nothing had happened,” he said, pitching himself as giving the choice back to the people.

‘It’s up to the French to decide’

For Jean-Paul, the snap polls might actually have been a good call. “It would be very difficult for him to have a good government, so OK, [let’s] make things clear right now and we will see,” he said.

“If the French decide to go for the extreme right, that’s the choice,” he said. “If they want to continue the middle way, it’s up to the French to decide.”

Macron’s position is not directly up for grabs in the poll; he won the 2022 presidential election against RN presidential challenger Marine Le Pen, securing a second and final five-year term. But control of parliament, where Macron’s party lost its majority in 2022, is in play. 

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