French President Macron’s snap election gamble ‘did not pay off,’ professor says

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France’s President Emmanuel Macron looks on as he leaves after his vote in the second round of France’s legislative election at a polling station in Le Touquet, northern France on July 7, 2024.

Ludovic Marin | Afp | Getty Images

The gamble that French President Emmanuel Macron took when he called a snap election has not paid off, according to Armin Steinbach, Jean Monnet professor of EU Law and economics at HEC Paris.

“It didn’t pay off. What [Macron] wanted to achieve was clarity, clarification on support for his government, and in that he failed,” Steinbach told CNBC’s Charlotte Reed on Monday.

Macron had called for a new legislative nationwide vote in France after the country’s far-right party made significant gains in the European Union election last month.

Concerns grew about the far-right Rassemblement National (RN) coming out on top on a national level after the party saw a surge in votes in the first round of voting on June 30. This however, did not hold true on Sunday following the second round of voting, as the left-wing New Popular Front coalition is set to hold the largest number of seats, according to results published by the Interior Ministry.

Macron’s centrist Ensemble bloc is set to make up the second-largest group in parliament, followed by the RN and its allies.

But even as RN is set to place third in the election, things will not be easy for Macron, Tina Fordham, founder of Fordham Global Insight, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Monday.

“Yes he was able to keep the far-right from first place but they’ve increased their seat share and now he has to deal with this unruly left and unruly right,” she said. “In terms of his legacy, he will be in for a real political fight.”

The election outcome has weakened Macron on a global level, Fordham suggested, adding that it will make it more difficult for the president to maintain his policy positions.

HEC’s Steinbach also pointed to potential issues regarding policy making. “His bloc lost significantly in votes. We are now with a parliament composed of one third left, one third right, one third in the centre — it’s fragmented and there’s a risk of a gridlock. I don’t see this as a success for Emmanuel Macron,” he said.

A parliament with no party holding an absolute majority, also referred to as a hung parliament, means policy-making and addressing issues such as public finances could now be difficult. France is facing a huge amount of debt and the European Union last month said it would place France under an Excessive Deficit Procedure as its budget deficit is larger than 3% of its gross domestic product.

Just because the far-right did not perform as they had hoped in this election does not mean they should be discounted for the presidential election in 2027, Steinbach added.

“For today it’s a loss for them, … but it doesn’t tell us anything about the 2027 presidential election. The race is open, the dissatisfaction of French voters and citizens has not gone away.”

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