French Runoff Election Sees Hundreds of Candidates Withdraw

The right-wing National Rally party posted a strong showing in the first round of the parliamentary elections last Sunday

According to AFP, around 200 candidates from President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance Party and a left-wing coalition have withdrawn from the runoff in the French parliamentary election. This move aims to prevent the right-wing National Rally (RN) party and its allies from gaining a majority in parliament.

Members of the 577-seat National Assembly are elected in single-seat constituencies through direct voting in two rounds. The first round was held over the past weekend after Macron called early parliamentary elections following the RN’s strong performance in last month’s European Parliament elections.

The right-wing party, previously led by Marine Le Pen and now by Jordan Bardella, won over 33% of the vote in the first round. The RN secured 37 seats in the legislature, while the newly-created left-wing New Popular Front (NFP) coalition finished second with 28% of the vote and 32 seats. Macron’s Renaissance got only two.

A candidate needs to receive over half of the vote to win outright in the first round. If none does, any candidate who reaches the 12.5% threshold enters a runoff. The second round of voting is scheduled for this Sunday, July 7.

According to AFP, Macron’s party and the NFP now hope that “tactical withdrawals” will prevent the RN and its allies from winning an absolute majority (289 seats) in the parliament.

Such tactics are being employed to avoid splitting the votes. Reuters also reported that over 180 candidates had confirmed they would stand down, and more could follow. According to the news agency, there were also cross-party calls on voters to support whichever candidate had the best chances of beating the local RN rival.

According to The Guardian, Macron’s Renaissance and the NFP still have tensions of their own. The president called on people to vote for candidates who are “clearly republican and democratic,” which supposedly would exclude a key NFP member – the France Unbowed party led by Jean-Luc Melenchon. The left then called on Macron to clarify his stance.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, a Macron ally, also told France Inter radio earlier that “France Unbowed is a danger for the nation, just as the National Rally is a danger for the Republic.” His words were then criticized by Marine Tondelier, a senior member of the Green Party, also a part of the NFP, who called the minister’s position “cowardly and privileged.”

All candidates eligible for the runoff must decide on running by Tuesday evening.