Clouds are gathering over the head of President Emmanuel Macron. Re-elected on April 24th, 2022, with 58% of the vote in his duel against Marine Le Pen, he is however no longer guaranteed an absolute majority in the June legislative elections, contrary to what first projections suggested just a few days ago.
During his first mandate, Emmanuel Macron and his party, La République En Marche, had already experienced a slow erosion of their number of deputies. In May 2020, several MPs departed from the majority to form a new parliamentary group with a stronger “ecological and social” dimension, causing the government camp to fall below the symbolic bar of 289 MPs, the number that marks the absolute majority in the National Assembly.
The scenario could be repeated in the new Assembly that will be elected on June 19th. The latest polls show that Emmanuel Macron’s two main opponents—the Nouvelle Union Populaire, Écologique et Solidaire (New Popular, Ecological and Solidarity Union, or NUPES), on his Left flank, and the Rassemblement National on his Right—are constantly gaining in voting intentions, to the detriment of the Macronist coalition, renamed “Ensemble.”
Published on Wednesday, June 1st, a survey conducted for BFMTV states that La République En Marche and its allies would be neck and neck with the members of the alliance formed around Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Macron’s party only gets 24.5% of voting intentions, slightly outstripped by the NUPES, credited with 25%. On the third step of the podium, the Rassemblement National receives 22% of the vote, widening the gap with the centre-right alliance formed by Les Républicains and the UDI, estimated at 12.5%. Far behind these four main political forces, Éric Zemmour’s Reconquête! movement only receives 4.5% of voting intentions.
The projection in seats still gives a premium to presidential power, but pessimistic estimates indicate a possibility of losing the absolute majority. This risk exists and is taken very seriously by Emmanuel Macron and his teams. The NUPES would benefit from 155 to 180 seats. The Rassemblement National would get between 35 and 65 seats. The right-wing governmental party of Les Républicains, which scored very poorly in the presidential election, continues its downward spiral, and could lose up to 90 seats compared to the previous legislature.
If Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s dream of being “elected Prime Minister,” according to the provocative formula he used at the time of the presidential election, remains very uncertain, he seems to have won his bet: that of appearing as the main oppositional force to Emmanuel Macron. “This is the first time that, three weeks before the vote, the opposition has been given the lead even though the presidential election is barely a month old. The French people have understood the appeal that was made to them,” Jean-Luc Mélenchon said at his big Parisian meeting on June 1st. Despite the inexhaustible divisions that are shaking the French Right, there is enthusiasm, as shown by the words of Julien Bayou, the national secretary of the ecologist party and candidate in Paris: “We are not here to testify, we are here to win, and to change life. Even me, who is usually super pessimistic, I’m starting to believe in it too.”
Bayou utters a conqueror’s discourse that is, unfortunately, cruelly lacking on the Right. The campaign of Marine Le Pen appears to be quite shallow in comparison. Some members of her entourage are surprised and worried about her lack of fighting spirit. The Rassemblement National will probably obtain a parliamentary group—it needs to get at least 15 elected members for that—but this is unlikely to have a significant impact on the public debate and to impose its themes and ideas. Above all, the repeated display of this political objective seems very disproportionate to the presence, in the second round, of the presidential election and has the effect of demotivating the troops. The candidate’s entourage displays a realism tinged with pessimism: “What should we say? That we are going to win? You mustn’t take people for fools. This political communication is a very Parisian attitude. Macron was elected at 58%, he is in the process of phagocytizing Les Républicains, he will come out at 30% in the first round,” explained a party executive to the magazine L’Express on Wednesday, May 25th.
Yet Marine Le Pen keeps on saying she is fighting with all her energy for this legislative campaign, insisting she wants to increase her power between now and the first round on Sunday, June 12th. However, a strong exit of her voters is to be feared.
Hélène de Lauzun studied at the École Normale Supérieure de Paris. She taught French literature and civilization at Harvard and received a Ph.D. in History from the Sorbonne. She is the author of Histoire de l’Autriche (Perrin, 2021).