French election: What happens next?

France is currently in the midst of its 2024 legislative elections. The right-wing National Rally (RN) is leading in many districts, but the outcome is uncertain due to a wide range of seat projections, ranging from 230 seats to 310. To secure an absolute majority in the assembly, 289 seats are needed.

The situation is complex because candidates who came third in districts have the potential to negatively impact the RN if they withdraw from the election. This is because voters opposed to the far right are likely to unite behind the sole remaining rival candidate in such a scenario.

Macron’s Prime Minister, Gabriel Attal, has called on these third-place finishers to withdraw when their candidacy could potentially elect the National Rally in the runoff. However, not all in Macron’s presidential camp are ready to comply with this request. During the campaign, centrist operatives argued that the left-wing bloc, called the New Popular Front, was under the control of the hard-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon and his France Unbowed (LFI) movement.

Before the first round of voting, Macron himself compared his leftist opponents to the far right, stating that their success could lead to a “civil war.” The clock is now ticking, as candidates who have qualified for the second round have until Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. CET to register their candidacies. The outcome of the vote next Sunday could be significantly influenced by these decisions.

The first round results show the New Popular Front (NFP) in the lead with 28.63%, followed by Ensemble (ENS) with 20.94%, and the National Rally Alliance (RN) with 33.25%. The RN’s success is primarily due to the National Rally party itself, which gained 29.3% of the votes. The 48-hour window leading up to the registration deadline could play a crucial role in shaping the political landscape of France in the coming days.

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