Explainer: High-stakes run-offs – France’s election showdown

by orderglycogensupport

In the wake of a highly contested first round of France’s parliamentary elections, the upcoming second round on July 7 is set to be a pivotal moment in the nation’s political landscape. With Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally (RN) making significant gains, the stage is now set for intense three-way run-offs in over 300 constituencies. Traditionally, France’s centre-right and centre-left parties have united in a “republican front” to block the RN by urging third-placed candidates to withdraw. However, the effectiveness of this strategy has waned, leaving the final outcome highly unpredictable. The next 48 hours of political manoeuvring and candidate decisions will be crucial in determining whether the RN can secure an outright majority in parliament, making this election a critical juncture for France’s democratic future.

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By Michel Rose

Here’s how the second round of France’s parliamentary election on July 7 will work and the possible scenarios after exit polls showed Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally (RN) party had won Sunday’s first round.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Elections for the 577 seats in France’s National Assembly are a two-round process.

In constituencies where no candidate won outright in the first round, the top two candidates, as well as any candidate with more than 12.5% of the total number of registered voters in that constituency, move to a second round.

Whoever gets the most votes in the second round wins the seat.

Read more:  Macron, Le Pen: A guide to France’s high stakes election

The high turnout on Sunday means some 300 constituencies are now facing potential three-way run-offs which, in theory, favour the RN.

To prevent these three-way run-offs and block the RN, France’s centre-right and centre-left politicians have long practiced what they call a “republican front,” whereby the third-placed candidate drops out of the race and urges voters to rally behind the second-placed candidate.

All candidates through to the run-off have until Tuesday evening to decide whether to stand down or run the second round.

HOW IS IT LOOKING THIS TIME?

Many political leaders gave guidance to candidates and voters on Sunday evening.

President Emmanuel Macron urged a “wide-ranging rally behind republican and democratic” candidates for the second round, effectively guiding against both the far-right Nationaly Rally and the hard-left France Unbowed (LFI) party.

Read more:  France faces political turmoil as far-right surges in snap election

His former Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, explicity called on the candidates from his party to drop out if they were in third position and rally behind candidates from the centre-left to the centre-right, excluding the RN and LFI.

On the left, the Socialist and LFI leaders also called on their third-placed candidates to drop out to block the RN.

The conservative Republicans party, which split ahead of the vote with a small number of its lawmakers joining forces with the RN, gave no guidance.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN NOW?

The effectiveness of the “republican front” has weakened over the years, and many voters no longer heed the advice of party leaders.

It is also possible that candidates will refuse to drop out despite guidance from political HQs in Paris.

But talks over the next 48 hours will be crucial and could swing the results significantly, potentially deciding whether the RN reaches an outright majority in parliament or not.

That makes the result of the second round extraordinarily hard to predict. Even pollsters have urged caution on their own seat projections.

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SOURCE: REUTERS

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