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Can Macron survive snap general elections after his was defeated by Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally?

French President Emmanuel Macron’s surprising decision to call a snap general election follows his defeat to Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally (RN) in the European parliamentary elections. In a televised address to the nation, Macron described the decision as “serious and heavy” but insisted he could not accept that “far-right parties…are progressing everywhere on the continent.”

Macron characterized his decision as “an act of confidence,” expressing his belief in “the capacity of the French people to make the best choice for themselves and for future generations.”

According to the Guardian, RN President Jordan Bardella had urged Macron to call early elections after the European parliamentary election results showed his party receiving double the votes of Macron’s centrist alliance. Bardella stated that the French voters had “expressed a desire for change… given its verdict and there is no appeal.”

Meanwhile, presidential candidate Le Pen welcomed the decision, stating that her party was “ready to put the country back on its feet” and “defend the interests of the French people.”

Article 12 of the French constitution permits presidents to dissolve the Assemblée Nationale to resolve political crises, such as permanent and irreconcilable differences between parliament and the executive.

Previous presidents have dissolved parliament, including in 1962, 1968, 1981, and 1988, when the presidential term was seven years and the parliament’s term only five, often leading to an opposing majority in the assembly.

This strategy has not always been successful; in 1997, then centre-right president Jacques Chirac called snap legislative elections, only for the left to win a majority, forcing him to endure five years of “cohabitation.”

Before the election results, several polls indicated that Macron’s popularity had significantly declined, especially among younger voters.

A poll published in Le Monde revealed that only four percent of 18-24-year-olds would consider voting for Macron’s coalition party, compared to 29 percent of over-70s. Rising living costs and dissatisfaction in rural areas were additional factors.

In 2022, Macron’s coalition party lost its parliamentary majority and controversially passed legislation without a lower house vote.

Analysts had warned that Macron’s centrist alliance would face major challenges in parliament following the recent defeat. However, many believe it is unlikely that the RN will win enough seats to secure a majority.

“It will almost certainly put a brake on Le Pen,” risk consultancy expert Mujtaba Rahman told Politico. “Because the base case is not that she will win a majority in the legislative election. I don’t think Le Pen will do as well in the legislative election, it’s a two-round election, it’s a different group of voters who will be mobilized.”

The elections are scheduled for June 30th and July 7th. They hold significant importance not only for the future of France but also for the cohesion of the European Union.

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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