'Flabbergasted and frightened': Macron's French election gamble leaves readers worried

Genevieve Mansfield
Genevieve Mansfield - [email protected]
'Flabbergasted and frightened': Macron's French election gamble leaves readers worried
A voter casts their ballot for the European Parliament election at a polling station in Dumbea, France's Pacific territory of New Caledonia on June 9, 2024. (Photo by Theo Rouby / AFP)

As France prepares to vote in snap elections at the end of June, readers of The Local have voiced their concerns about the vote, as well as the possible ramifications for foreigners in France.


France will head back to the polls at the end of this month for snap parliamentary elections - called by French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday in the wake of his party's humiliating European election defeat at the hands of Marine Le Pen's far-right Rassemblement National (RN).

Voting in the election is only possible for French citizens, so many foreigners in France will have no say - and yet any change in government could have a big impact on their lives, especially any changes to the immigration system, which is a key priority for the RN.

READ MORE: What would a victory for Le Pen's far-right party mean for France?

The Local reached out to readers to hear their thoughts on Macron's unexpected decision.

Fear for the future

Multiple readers told The Local they were fearful, particularly about the possibility of the far right gaining ground in France.

An anonymous respondent wrote "I'm worried about France's turn to the right", and another said they were "worried Macron has enabled the return of fascism" and "concerned about the far right winning."

One reader described their feelings as "Terrified! Alarmed and nervous that the far right will get in. That they will put their lot into Europe", while another stated that their primary concern was "becoming unwelcome" in France.

"[The election] is a huge risk, with potentially monumental impacts on French both society and social programmes," another respondent, Eric, said.

He added that his worry was "rise of nationalism and far right extremism has global implications beyond France."

Morgane told The Local: "I'm a trans woman and I am truly afraid for my rights should the RN win enough seats in the Assemblée Nationale to have influence over the legislative process; I've seen what happened in the UK because of the Tories!"

READ MORE: Election news: 5-minute guide to the latest on France's snap elections

Parallels with Brexit and the UK

She is not the only reader to have likened the political situation in France to that of the UK, several others was parallels with Brexit.

"I moved to France on account of Brexit because I didn't like the right wing vibe. So it is alarming to think I may have come somewhere with far more serious political issues with right wing thinking," one reader said.


Robert Wiggins told The Local: "I expect the RN and its allies will win, that will make the remainder of Macron's term as President pretty difficult.

"My only other concern is that a victory for the far right will be seen as a green light for more overt racism towards immigrants and people of colour (much as the Brexit vote greenlighted this behaviour in the UK)," he said.

Another reader said: "The lies, racism and xenophobia of the far right become mainstream views and no one is able to counter them. Shades of the UK when the Brexit vote was driven on the back of opportunism, Nigel Farage's scare tactics and a complacent David Cameron."

Retirement plans

With mounting concerns about the growth of the far right, some respondents said the upcoming elections have left them wondering about how their lives in France will be affected.

One reader, Dini Martini, said "[this] puts a big question mark on whether to retire to France next year."

While another reader was curious about "the potential impact on non-national second homeowners."


Confusion around the 'gamble'

As for the president's choice to call snap elections in the first place, several readers were incredulous. 

Morgane said she was "flabbergasted".

"I honestly expected the Rassemblement National to win the French part of the EU parliament elections (given the polls, but also given the growing anger in the country); but seeing our president react to this result by calling for snap parliamentary elections, with the real and quasi-immediate possibility of a far-right government coming into power after it, feels like a stab in the back," she wrote.

Four readers called the decision a 'gamble'.

Nick Dawson told The Local "Macron is taking a calculated gamble and believes that the FN will lose. He currently has a weak parliament and hopes to strengthen it. He could, of course, lose this gamble but it is unlikely."

READ MORE: The 3 reasons that French presidents leave office early

While Robert Wiggins said "[calling new elections] was a foolish thing to do. Gambles like this have not paid off for any government in the recent past."

As for Macron himself, he acknowledged the risks in his initial speech after announcing new elections.

"This decision is serious and heavy but it is an act of confidence. Confidence in you, dear compatriots, and in the capacity of the French people to make the best choice for itself and future generations," the president said on Sunday.

Support for new elections

However, there were still some readers who did not find the situation to be concerning, including one anonymous reader who said the call for elections was not concerning, but rather an example of democracy.


Seb Rocco told The Local: "The French are left-leaning at heart. They always complain about their lot, but won't let the right wing in."

He said he was not worried, adding: "France is still a socialist country at heart. They just don't realise it!"

Liz Watkins-Young told The Local: "Macron was right to call [the elections]." She said she was "not worried, but frustrated that the French centrist right and left parties seem incapable of creating a realistic alternative to the current Macron/Le Pen impasse."

As for reader Kathy Gallagher, she said "Macron is challenging the French to step up to demonstrate republican values. The French will do that and RN will take a beating. Macron might be too egotistical, but he knows his people well."

And finally Jim Lockard, told The Local: "President Macron is clearly taking a risk and the people of France get to speak."

"I cannot vote in these elections, but I trust that the French people will not entrust significant power to the far right."


Comments (3)

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Sanne 2024/06/13 22:23
Non EU second home owners may start to feel nervous and rightly so. Making move or stay decisions will be possible once the majority of people have spoken through the result of snap elections.
Agathe 2024/06/13 16:38
Personally, I don’t think Europeans in France have anything to worry about.
Paul Griffiths 2024/06/13 13:40
My personal concern is as a withdrawal agreement resident, married to a French woman, in my late 70s, my French workable but far from excellent. With the FN in power, what might happen that I can’t control?

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