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2022 FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Macron victory in France – what happens next?

Emmanuel Macron has been re-elected for a second term as French president, projected results show - so once the celebrations and (in the Le Pen camp) tears are over, what happens next in France?

Macron victory in France - what happens next?
Supporters react after the victory of French President and La Republique en Marche (LREM) party candidate for re-election Emmanuel Macron in France's presidential election, at the Champ de Mars, in Paris, on April 24, 2022. (Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP)

The projection based on projected results at 8pm indicated that Emmanuel Macron has won the second round.

The final result will be released by the Interior Ministry on Monday morning, but the initial projection – which is extrapolated from the first 100, 200 or 400 votes cast at polling stations which are specially selected to represent different demographics, geographical areas and political strongholds – are generally very accurate.

READ ALSO How does France produce such early election results?

The rest of the evening will be given over to victory speeches, concession speeches, much political analysis and – in the two candidates’ camps – probably quite a lot of drinking to either celebrate victory or drown sorrows.

But once Monday morning dawns we get back to serious politics and a momentous few days.

What happens this week?

On Wednesday Laurent Fabius, head of the Constitutional Council, will proclaim the official results.

The Interior Ministry’s count released on Monday is the de facto result, but over the next two days the Constitutional Council verifies the vote, reads the reports of its delegates and deals with any disputes that have arisen. In the first round, for example, a total of 10,216 votes were cancelled due to irregularities at polling stations.

Winners can and do make decisions and changes before the official result is announced, however.

As the incumbent, Macron stays in the Elysée and carries on governing, there is no transition period, although there will be an inauguration which will have to take place by May 14th, when his current term ends.

We do already know, however, that Prime Minister Jean Castex will resign and dissolve the government.

This is pretty standard and allows Macron to reshuffle his government ahead of the parliamentary elections in June.

Some of his ministers will probably stay in position, but others will move jobs and Macron will also be able to bring in people from the outside. There’s been some discussion about whether he might appoint Christine Lagarde – head of the European Central Bank and a former French finance minister under Nicolas Sarkozy – as his Prime Minister. 

The resignation will happen some time this week, according to (current) government spokesman Gabriel Attal, and the new government will be announced shortly afterwards.

Then what happens?

But even after the government is announced it’s not all over. We then move into campaigning for the parliamentary elections (législatives). 

Again there’s two rounds of voting, this time with just a week between them on June 12th and 19th.

In these elections the French get to elect their local representative, known as a député, which is roughly equivalent to an MP in the UK. They sit in the Assemblée nationale, the lower house of parliament in France.

They’re crucial to the president, because any laws that they wishe to pass have to be debated and approved in the Assemblée nationale, so if you don’t have a majority of supporters in the parliament you may be pretty limited in what you can do.

New laws also move through the French Senate, but in the event of a dispute between the Senate and the Assemblée nationale it’s the Assemblée nationale which has the final say. 

There are several mechanisms in the French political structure that allow laws to bypass parliament – there’s something called Article 49.3 that can be used to push blocked laws through parliament – Macron used that to push through his controversial pension reforms in 2020 – and there’s also the option of putting potential laws to a referendum.

A referendum means that – if the country votes in favour – you can skip steps like a review from the Constitutional Council. Le Pen said that she would use this mechanism to force through changes like a ban on the Muslim headscarf and discrimination against non-French citizens for jobs and benefits, which the Council would be likely to rule unconstitutional.

But even with these mechanisms, a president who doesn’t have a majority in parliament is going to have a tough time, so it will be an important campaign.  

Once parliamentary elections are out of the way we’re nearly into les grandes vacances, so we can all take a well-earned break from politics and head for the beach.

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POLITICS

Macron’s chief of staff charged with conflict of interest

The top official in French President Emmanuel Macron's office has been charged with a conflict of interest, the chief financial crimes prosecutor said on Monday.

Macron's chief of staff charged with conflict of interest

The move against Alexis Kohler, who holds one of France’s most powerful jobs as Elysee secretary-general, came hours after another Macron ally, Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti, was ordered to stand trial in a separate case, also over a conflict of interest.

Kohler is accused over his professional and family links with Italian-Swiss shipping company Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) which is run by his mother’s cousins, prosecutor Jean-Francois Bohnert said in a statement.

On Monday, Kohler “categorically denied any wrongdoing”, his lawyer said, while an official in Macron’s office said Kohler remained in his post.

In 2018, Anticor, an anti-corruption NGO, filed a legal complaint against Kohler for illegal influence-peddling concerning contracts awarded to MSC in 2010 and 2011.

Kohler allegedly failed to reveal his family connections with MSC to the French agency for public investment where he worked at the time.

The case was dismissed the following year, but in 2020, Anticor filed a civil case which usually triggers a probe by an investigating magistrate.

Kohler, whose office at the Elysee is located next to that of the president, is often described as Macron’s right-hand man.

His job involves handling emergencies, major economic and social issues as well as some political decisions.

His lawyer, Eric Dezeuze, said the discovery of evidence linked to the charging would allow Kohler “to prove his innocence”.

But Anticor lawyer Jean-Baptiste Soufron said “the question of his resignation is now on the table”.

Macron’s administration under pressure

Adding to pressure on Macron’s administration, Justice Minister Dupond-Moretti was ordered Monday to stand trial, charged with misusing his position to settle scores with opponents from his legal career.

The former star lawyer is the first sitting French justice minister to be charged in a legal probe.

The accusations relate to administrative inquiries ordered into three judges during Dupond-Moretti’s time as minister, which were denounced by critics as a witchhunt.

The three judges had ordered police in 2014 to pore through the phone records of dozens of lawyers and magistrates, including Dupond-Moretti, as part of an investigation into former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

The order to stand trial was issued by the investigation commission of the Law Court of the Republic in Paris, which hears cases of alleged wrongdoing by serving ministers.

‘Many irregularities’

But his lawyers, Christophe Ingrain and Remi Lorrain, said they had already appealed, sparking a temporary suspension of the move.

Lorrain said France’s highest appeals court would now pursue the matter.

A source close to the case said it was uncertain when the appeals court would rule on the matter.

Lorrain said there had been “many irregularities” in the case, and the chief prosecutor, Francois Molins, had been “unfair and biased”.

The case against Dupond-Moretti goes back to January 2021 when Anticor and a magistrates’ union filed a legal complaint, accusing him of using his ministerial powers to take revenge on his enemies in the judiciary.

He was charged the following July.

Despite opposition calls for him to be sacked, Macron re-appointed him as justice minister in a cabinet reshuffle earlier this year.

France’s two main magistrates’ unions said the accusations put Dupond-Moretti in an “unprecedented” position.

In a statement they said there could be “another conflict of interest” when Dupond-Moretti, as justice minister, picks a successor to prosecutor Molins who is to retire in June.

“He would get to appoint his own accuser,” the unions said.

Anti-corruption NGO Transparency International called for Dupond-Moretti’s resignation.

Contacted by AFP, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne’s office declined to comment on whether Dupond-Moretti’s job was at risk.

A spokesperson for the prime minister noted simply that “the procedure is ongoing” and that it was organised so as not to affect Dupond-Moretti’s business as justice minister.

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