French election 2024 live updates: Results could bring far-right closer to power

A polling station in Paris during the second round of French parliamentary elections on Sunday.credit…Mauricio Lima, The New York Times

French voters on Sunday cast their second and final ballot to choose representatives to the 577-seat National Assembly, the country’s lower house and most important chamber.

The vote has huge implications for Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron as his nationalist, anti-immigration National Rally is expected to do well, potentially setting up months of political deadlock.

France has 577 constituencies (one for each seat) covering the mainland, overseas departments, territories, and French citizens living abroad. France awards the seat to the candidate who receives the most votes in each constituency.

Seventy-six seats were won directly in the first round of voting, which took place a week ago. The remaining seats will go to a runoff election, which will take place on Sunday.

Any number of candidates can run in the first round in each district, but there are certain criteria for moving on to the second round. In most cases, the top two vote-getters are selected in a runoff election, but sometimes three or even four candidates are selected if they receive at least 12.5% ​​of the votes of registered voters in the district.

High turnout led to more than 300 three-way runoffs after the first round last week. But left-wing parties and Macron’s centrist coalition withdrew more than 200 candidates from the three-way runoffs to avoid splitting the vote and preventing the Rally National from winning an absolute majority. That left fewer than 100 three-way runoffs to vote on Sunday.

The person who receives the most votes in the runoff election wins.

Polls close in most of France at 6pm local time (12pm eastern time), but will continue until 8pm in some major cities.

The French Interior Ministry is expected to start publishing the first results at 8 p.m. (2 p.m. ET), with pollsters’ nationwide seat projections due to be released around the same time.

If the Rally National and its allies, which won the most votes in the first round, were to win a majority in the National Assembly, Macron would have no choice but to appoint a prime minister from a far-right party, which would put French domestic policy entirely in the hands of the far right and threaten to disrupt Macron’s defense and foreign policy.

Without a clear majority, Macron will have limited options on how to proceed.

Macron could try to forge a new coalition government, but that could be difficult: The three main political forces — the far right, the left-wing coalition and Macron’s centrist bloc — have fundamentally different policy agendas and, in some cases, expressed extreme hostility towards one another.

Without a majority, the country could plunge into months of political deadlock and chaos. Macron, who has ruled out resigning, said: Failure to call new legislative elections One year already.

One possibility analysts have discussed is to install a caretaker government, as has happened in Belgium, to run the country’s day-to-day affairs until a political solution can be found, but this too would be a departure from French tradition.

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