French parliamentary elections: What happens on Sunday and why it matters

The Local
The Local - [email protected]
French parliamentary elections: What happens on Sunday and why it matters
France's President Emmanuel Macron leaves the polling booth to casts his vote in French parliamentary elections at a polling station in Le Touquet, northern France on June 12, 2022. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP)

On Sunday most of France heads to the polls for the second round of voting in the parliamentary elections - here's what happens, when we get the results and what happens next.


The elections législative (parliamentary elections) decide who fills the 577 available seats in the National Assembly for the next five years.


They elect MPs  to serve residents of France and French overseas territories, plus 11 MPs to look after the interests of French citizens living abroad, and voting is done on a constituency level.

June 12th marked the first round of voting in France - and produced a very close result and a record abstention level - but voting continues in a second round on June 19th.

Second round

Not everywhere holds a second round of voting - if a candidate wins an absolute majority of more than 50 percent of the vote then they have won, and there is no second round in their district.

This has happened in several areas, but the majority of constituencies saw no outright majorities last week, so will vote again on Sunday. 

In the second round, only candidates who scored at least 12.5 percent of the total vote in their constituencies appears on the ballot paper.

In most places it will be a choice between two candidates, but in some areas there are three candidates - known as a triangulaire - in round two.

The second round follows the same format as the first - polling booths open at 8am around France and close at either 6pm, 7pm or 8pm depending on the area, most of the big cities are keeping their pooling stations open until 8pm.

Preliminary results are announced at 8pm - these are based on votes counted at specially selected polling stations and are usually very accurate.

The final results are released by the Interior Ministry in the early hours of Monday.

READ ALSO Ministers, maids and 'Wolverine' - who's standing in the French parliamentary elections


What next?

If Macron's centrist party and its allies manage to win an outright majority in the Assembly, business will continue largely as usual. 

If they do not, the days and weeks after the election will be marked with horse-trading between political groups to try and put together an alliance that will back Macron - the most likely candidates for this are the MPs of Les Républicains, but independent MPs and smaller parties may also be involved.

Macron's MP Elisabeth Borne will try to put together a binding alliance, or failing that may try to form an alliance on a vote-by-vote basis.

If all these options are impossible, Macron may be forced to enter a cohabitation with the leader of the largest group in the parliament.

Borne may also have to reshuffle her cabinet and appoint some new ministers, since Macron has decreed that any minister who is not re-elected will have to step down. A total of 15 of the 28 ministers are candidates, and at least three of them are facing a tough race.

Other key dates

June 21st marks the end of the mandate of the National Assembly elected in 2017. The MPs who have been re-elected will carry on, while their defeated colleagues -or those who decided not to stand - will leave.

On June 28th there is the first session of the elected Assembly and the election of the President of the National Assembly.

Why does all this matter?

The parliamentary elections generally attract less attention than the presidential ones, but they are crucial for what happens in France over the next five years.

Although Macron was re-elected president in April if he wants to pass any laws during his mandate he will need the backing of parliament, and therefore needs a majority of MPs who are either in his party or allied to him.

If he cannot win a parliamentary majority he could be forced into the position known as a cohabitation - appointing as prime minister the leader of the party that has the majority in parliament.

So essentially these elections are the difference between Macron forging ahead with his ambitious programme of reforms, or five years of 'compromise' government likely to be marked by paralysis.



One notable feature of these elections is that many parties have formed alliances, agreeing not to run candidates against each other.

On the left is Nupes (Nouvelle Union Populaire, Ecologique et Sociale) which comprises the far left La France Insoumise, the centre left Parti Socialiste, the Greens and the Communists. It is lead by third-placed presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who is hoping to be appointed Prime Minister if his group wins the parliamentary majority.

In the centre is Macron's party La République en marche, Horizon - the new party founded by ex PM Edouard Philippe - and the centrists of MoDem.

Not part of an alliance but still with candidates in the race are Marine Le Pen's Rassemblement National party and the centre-right Les Républicains.

All the candidates from Eric Zemmour's extreme right party were knocked out in the first round, along with candidates from some of the smaller parties such as the Animalist Party. 



Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also