Snap Elections in France Could Lead to First Far-Right Government

President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to call snap elections in France has created political instability and the possibility of the country’s first far-right government. Macron’s move came after Marine Le Pen’s National Rally received twice as many votes as his centrist coalition in the European Parliament election. The elections will force voters to choose between Macron’s pro-business, pro-Europe vision and Le Pen’s agenda of cutting migration and undoing some of Macron’s reforms. The first round of voting will take place on Sunday, with runoffs on July 7.

According to Bloomberg’s poll of polls, National Rally and its allies are currently leading with a projected vote share of 36.2%. A left-wing alliance, including the Socialists, Communists, Greens, and France Unbowed, is projected to receive 28.3%, while Macron’s centrist group is expected to get 20.4%.

The distribution of seats in the 577-member National Assembly after the second round will determine the next government. Bloomberg’s final poll of polls suggests that National Rally and its allies could become the largest group in the lower house with between 238 and 281 members. More data from the first round results will refine these projections.

Higher voter turnout is expected, increasing the chances of more than two candidates making it to the second round. This could lead to less predictable three- or four-way races. The interior ministry will publish interim figures for turnout at midday and 5 p.m.

If any group secures an absolute majority of 289 or more seats, they will control the lower house of parliament. This would allow them to easily pass laws and form a stable government. If a different party than the president obtains the majority, it would result in a power-sharing arrangement called cohabitation. A minority government is also possible if the leading group falls short of an absolute majority.

Macron’s decision to call the elections caused turmoil in French markets, with an equity selloff and a rise in government bond yields. The benchmark CAC 40 stock index fell to its lowest level since January.

The three leading groups in the elections propose different paths for France. Macron’s party stands for continuity, with pro-business tax cuts and reforms. The National Rally promises to cut immigration and toughen France’s stance on law and order. The New Popular Front has a radical economic program, including freezing consumer staple prices and raising the minimum wage.

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