A month and a half after President Emmanuel Macron’s re-election, the French vote again on Sunday against the resurgent left on whether to give him back his parliamentary majority, a decisive vote for his ability to act over the next five years. .
Despite the risks, the first-round abstention was expected to be particularly high, with a midday turnout of over 48 million registered voters, with legislative elections ending the day at 48.7, a historic drop since 1958, still lower than in 2017. . %.
Voting stations opened at 06:00 GMT and will close at 16:00 GMT, except in major cities such as Paris, where the deadline for submissions has been extended from 18:00 GMT. The second round will be held a week later, on 19 June.
The presidential coalition is head-to-head with an alliance of left-wing parties grouping behind Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who finished third in the presidential election, according to the latest voting intentions polls released on Friday.
A finalist in the April 24 presidential election, Marine Le Pen’s far-right party would take third place, well ahead of the traditional right, which could lose its status as the leading opposition group.
Thus, these legislative elections should confirm the broad realignment of the French political landscape initiated with the election of Mr Macron in 2017.
More ambiguous projections of seat numbers give the presidential coalition an edge, but the probability of gaining an absolute majority – 289 out of 577 – is falling globally, according to recent opinion polls. , as well as the interest shown by the voters.
“Less enthusiasm than the presidential election”
In Saint-Sulpice-la-Forêt (Brittany, west), 61-year-old Arnaud Davy, who “votes in all elections”, says “less enthusiastic about the presidential election, people talk less about it.”
For Mauricette, 73, who was one of the first voters in the Paris suburbs Pantin, she goes to the polls and says “we’re going through a bit of a mess, it’s even more important to show up somehow.”
Mr Macron mobilized at the end of the campaign and urged the French to give him a “strong and clear majority”. It acted as a bulwark against the “extreme”, targeting Mr. Mélenchon’s radical left and Marine Le Pen’s far right, which for him was synonymous with “disorder” for France.
A relative, not an absolute, majority will complicate the path of reforms he wants to make for his second term, especially with regard to pensions.
In a less likely hypothesis that the left, led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, would win an absolute majority and impose on him an unprecedented coexistence for a newly elected president, he would be stripped of nearly all of its domestic political powers.
“It is no longer he who will determine the policy of the nation, but the majority in the National Assembly and the Prime Minister who will come from it,” summarizes Dominique Rousseau, professor of constitutional law at the Panthéon-Sorbonne University.
A veteran of French political life, Mr. Mélenchon has established himself as his main rival, leading the most dynamic campaign and taking the lead of an unprecedented alliance that, according to analysts, brought together socialists, communists, ecologists and his own movement.
The Left proposes an economic program that plans to inject 250 billion euros (versus 267 billion in income) into the economy, of which 125 billion includes aid, subsidies and wealth redistribution.
The election takes place in a climate of anxiety among the French in the face of rising food and energy prices.
The government recalls that France has the lowest inflation rate in Europe (5.2% in a year in May) and has promised new measures to preserve its purchasing power after the elections.
The final outcome of the legislative elections, which will be held within a week, may affect the composition of the executive, formed on 20 May, with fifteen members of it nominated, including Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne. However, according to an unwritten rule implemented by Emmanuel Macron in 2017, they will have to resign in case of defeat.
In Guadeloupe, in the French West Indies, where we voted on Saturday, as in many regions outside mainland France, Maritime Secretary of State Justine Benin is in an affirmative vote against various left-wing candidates.