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Intel Brief: Security implications of French legislative elections 2024



Date: 20/06/2024


Who’s involved:

  • Rassemblement National, Renaissance, New Popular Front.







What happened?

  • European elections were held on 09/06/2024 in France and saw the far-right party Rassemblement National (RN) gaining a considerable advantage against the current ruling coalition, in which the party of President Macron is participating. 


  • After the results of the European Elections in France were made public, on 09/06/2024 French President Macron dissolved the parliament and announced snap legislative elections to be held on 30/06/2024, with a second round for 07/07/2024. Macron claimed there was a need for political clarification. This move surprised many, especially among Macron’s allies, as it was not disclosed with them in advance. The uncertainty also triggered turmoil in the French bond market, with many rushing to sell their stocks. 


  • Soon after the announcement, anti-far right protests began around the country. Protests also continued on 15/06/2024 in the biggest French cities. Peaceful demonstrators, backed by labor unions and human rights associations, were denouncing the rise of far right parties in France and calling for leftist parties to unite during the election. Some protesters in Paris got violent and clashed with riot police, but they drew criticism from other demonstrators. 


  • Chaos ensued in the political scene. In a bid to gain the majority, Ciotti, the leader of the center right party Les Républicains, publicly suggested a cooperation with RN. His party proceeded to oust him unanimously, in opposition to his suggestion, even though this decision was later reversed by the judicial court in Paris. Ciotti also tried to lock members out of the party’s headquarters to avoid being voted off the party.


  • On 19/06/2024, the European Commission reprimanded France for breaking EU rules on deficit. This might trigger further excessive deficit procedures by the EU to rein in spending and possibly also fines.

 


Analysis:

  • According to the most recent polls, conducted after the announcement of new elections, RN is set to be the winner, although without gaining a majority. The Conservatives and Moderate parties in France will have a hard time in the coming elections as they are squeezed in between two polarities in a very polarized society. Macron and his coalition are not popular on either side of the political spectrum. Macron’s bluff calling a snap election right after the political shock of the RN winning so much in the European Elections is the expectation that the “silent majority” will rise up and go to the voting booths to stop the Far-Right or the Left from winning the elections. This bluff however is a tricky one since Macron’s policies have been unpopular across the board. It will be hard for Macron to assemble a functional government if he is looking to appease both sides of the spectrum.


  • Far right parties, especially RN, have gained popularity in recent years, often in opposition to an increasingly unpopular President Macron. Many government policies were met with widespread protests and popular opposition, which in the end bolstered the far right. This was made apparent by the European elections. However, far right policies might worsen France’s economic position. RN has often campaigned for tax cuts concurrently with the undoing of unpopular reforms elaborated to ease the pressure on the country’s fiscal system, especially the pension reform. A RN win would put France in an increasingly strained relationship with European and possibly international partners, due to the fiscal policies and the social policies. RN has often advanced euro-skeptic and anti-immigration ideas and a parliament governed by them might create more and more conflicts with European institutions. This is especially relevant in light of EU dissatisfaction with the management of the French fiscal deficit, which could contribute to isolating a far right government. 


  • The parliamentarian Left in France has not scored well in the past decades. There are a large number of left wing parties and they have problems working together for a common cause. Also, the power of extra-parliamentary groups on the Left, like Trade Unions, communist and anarchist groups in combination with a withdrawal of interest in politics by people with an immigrant background has deeply affected the power of the Left. The discontent with politics, corruption, institutional racism, police brutality and the dismantling of the welfare state have left many people on the Left disillusioned. But now with the almost inevitable electoral win for the Far-Right it seems that all groups on the Left are starting to rally again. There are massive protests in the streets against racism in politics and the parliamentary Left parties are looking to unite under one banner. It is likely that more young people and people with an immigrant background will go to the voting booths this election in a surge to stop the Far-Right from winning. Whether or not that is going to be enough is not likely though. If the Far-Right does win the elections there is a chance that the Left will organize in and out of parliament and that large protests and strikes will bring France to a standstill. Large and intense clashes with security forces, who will get the green light from the RN to do whatever it wants, will be a likely occurrence in the coming months if not years.


  • If the RN wins the elections it will have broad consequences for the European Union, NATO and other international alliances. France is a big player on the international scene and if the RN wins the elections there is a chance that France will withdraw from being active in the EU or NATO. Other countries will also have to decide if they want to work together with a Far-Right government. In a time of a very hot cold war with Russia over Ukraine and possible other Russian expansion efforts it is likely that a RN government will weaken the position of the EU and NATO in confronting Russia’s ambitions.


Conclusion: 

The upcoming snap elections in France on 30/06/2024 can have broad repercussions nationally and internationally. With the expected win of the RN it is likely that protests and strikes against the RN government will take over the streets of Paris and other cities in defiance of new policies. The police will have the moral support from the RN to crack down hard on the protests and this is likely to lead to more violence from all sides. Internationally it will be difficult for the EU and NATO to work with a RN government that is eurosceptic and isolationist. The Ukrainian war effort will likely suffer from a RN government and this might encourage Russia to double its efforts in the conflict. Other international agreements on the environment, immigration and social justice will likely suffer from the policies and standpoints of an RN government. This will have consequences for united policies in the EU.



 
20062024 French Elections
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