France faces an election like no other. Here’s how it works and what happens next

PARIS (AP) — French voters are being called to the polls Sunday for an exceptional moment in their political history: the first round. Snap parliamentary election The country’s first far-right government – or no majority at all – has emerged since the Nazi occupation since World War II.

Following the run-off and snap campaign on July 7, the outcome of the vote remains highly uncertain, with three main political blocs competing: The far-right National Rally, President Emmanuel Macron centrist alliance and New Popular Front Alliance These include centre-left, green and hard-left forces.

Here’s a closer look:

How does it work?

The French system is complex and disproportionate to nationwide support for a party. Assembly members are elected district-wise. A parliamentary candidate needs 50% of the votes to be fully elected on Sunday.

Failing that, the top two contestants, along with anyone else who receives more than 12.5% ​​of the registered electorate’s support, advance to a second round.

In some cases, three or four people make it to the second round, although some may step aside to improve another contender’s chances – a practice that has been used in the past to block far-right candidates.

Major party leaders are expected to unveil their strategy between the two rounds. This makes the outcome of the second round highly uncertain and dependent on political maneuvering and how voters react.

More than 50 countries will go to the polls in 2024

The far-right National Rally, which leads all pre-election polls, hopes to win an absolute majority, or at least 289 of the 577 seats.

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The National Assembly, the lower house, is the more powerful of France’s two houses. It has the final say in the law-making process over the conservative-dominated Senate.

He added that Macron has a presidential mandate until 2027 He will not step down before the end His tenure.

What is Coexistence?

If another political force wins a majority over his centrist coalition, Macron will be forced to appoint someone from that new majority as prime minister.

In such a situation – known in France as “collaboration” – the government will implement policies that differ from the president’s plan.

France’s modern republic enjoyed three coexistences, last under conservative President Jacques Chirac with Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin from 1997 to 2002.

The Prime Minister is accountable to Parliament, leads the government and introduces bills.

“In the case of co-operation, the policies implemented were essentially those of the prime minister,” said political historian Jean Garrix.

During the coalition the president is weaker at home, but still has some powers in foreign policy, European affairs, and defense because he is responsible for negotiating and ratifying international agreements. The president is also the commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces and holds the nuclear codes.

“Since he has the power to sign or not sign government decrees or decrees, the president has the possibility to block or temporarily suspend the implementation of a certain number of prime ministerial projects,” Garrigues added.

“However, the Prime Minister has the power to submit these orders and decrees to the National Assembly for a vote, thereby overriding the reluctance of the President,” he noted.

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Who directs defense and foreign policies?

During previous coexistences, defense and foreign policy were considered the informal “reserved domain” of the president, who usually found compromises with the prime minister and allowed him to speak with one voice abroad.

Even today, the views of the far-right and left-wing coalition in these areas are quite different from Macron’s approach. A subject of tension during potential symbiosis.

According to the constitution, “while the president is the head of the military, the prime minister has the armed forces at his disposal,” Garrigues said.

“In the diplomatic field, too, the presidential perimeter has been significantly restricted,” Garrigues added.

Jordan Bardella, leader of the National Rally, said that if he becomes prime minister, I will become prime minister We oppose sending French troops to Ukraine – An opportunity Macron did not rule out. Bardella also said it would deny the French supply of long-range missiles and other weapons capable of hitting targets inside Russia.

If the left-wing coalition were to win the election, it would undermine France’s diplomatic efforts in the Middle East.

The new Popular Front’s platform plans to “immediately recognize the Palestinian state” and “break the French government’s criminal support” for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Macron has argued before Recognize the State of Palestine At a “beneficial moment,” the Israel-Hamas war does not currently permit such a move.

What happens if there is no majority?

The president can name a prime minister from the parliamentary group with the most seats in the National Assembly – which will be the case with Macron’s own centrist coalition from 2022.

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However, the National Rally has already said it rejects such an option because a coalition of other political parties would mean a far-right government could soon be toppled by a no-confidence vote.

The president may try to build a broad coalition from left to right, which seems unlikely given the political differences.

Another complicated option would be to appoint a “government of experts” unaffiliated with political parties, experts say, but this would still need to be approved by a majority in the National Assembly. Such a government will mostly deal with day-to-day affairs rather than implementing major reforms.

If political talks take longer between summer vacation and July 26-Aug. 11 OIympics in Paris, Garrigues said a “transition period” had not been ruled out, during which Macron’s centrist government would “still be in charge of current affairs”, pending results.

“Regardless of the national assembly, the constitution of the 5th Republic seems flexible enough to survive these complex situations,” said Melody Mock-Groot, a public law expert at Science Poe Paris, in a written note. “Even in the face of this testing exercise, organizations are more solid than they appear.”

“Yet there is another unknown factor in the equation: people’s ability to adapt to the situation,” Mock-Groot wrote.

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