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Will Macron resign in case of a French election disaster?

Emma Pearson
Emma Pearson - [email protected]
Will Macron resign in case of a French election disaster?
Will France's France's President Emmanuel Macron resign in the case of an election disaster?Photo by Yves Herman / POOL / AFP

The polling is not looking good for president Emmanuel Macron's party in the snap elections that he called just two weeks ago. So will he resign if it all goes wrong?


On Sunday, June 9th, the French president stunned Europe when he called snap parliamentary elections in France, in the wake of humiliating results for his centrist group in the European elections.

The French president has the power to dissolve parliament and call fresh elections - but this power is rarely used and in recent decades French parliaments have run on fixed terms. Very few people predicted Macron's move.

But polling for the fresh elections (held over two rounds on June 30th and July 7th) is looking very bad for the president's centrist Renaissance party - currently trailing third behind Marine Le Pen's far-right Rassemblement National and the combined leftist group Nouveau Front Populaire.

Listen to the team from The Local discussing all the election latest in the new episode of the Talking France podcast. Download here or listen on the link below


The election was a gamble for Macron - but if his gamble fails will he resign?


What does the law and the constitution say?

Legally, Macron does not need to resign. In France the presidential and the parliamentary elections are separate - Macron himself was re-elected in 2022 with a five-year mandate (until May 2027).

His party failing to gain a parliamentary majority does not change that - in fact the centrists failed to gain a overall majority in the 2022 parliamentary elections too (although they remained the largest party). Since then, the government has limped on, managing to pass some legislation by using constitutional powers.

The constitution also offers no compulsion or even a suggestion that the president should resign if he fails to form a government.

In fact the current constitution (France has had five) gives a significant amount of power to the president at the expense of parliament - the president has the power to dissolve parliament (as Macron has demonstrated), to set policy on areas including defence and diplomacy and to bypass parliament entirely and force through legislation (through the tool known as Article 49.3). 

In fact there are only three reasons in the constitution that a president would finish their term of office early; resigning, dying in office or being the subject of impeachment proceedings.

Since 1958, only one president has resigned - Charles de Gaulle quit in 1969 after the failure of a referendum that he had backed. He died 18 months later, at the age of 79.  

OK, but is he likely to resign?

He says not. In an open letter to the French people published over the weekend, Macron wrote: "You can trust me to act until May 2027 as your president, protector at every moment of our republic, our values, respectful of pluralism and your choices, at your service and that of the nation."

He insisted that the coming vote was "neither a presidential election, nor a vote of confidence in the president of the republic" but a response to "a single question: who should govern France?"

So it looks likely that Macron will stay put.


And he wouldn't be the first French president to continue in office despite his party having failed to win a parliamentary majority - presidents François Mitterand and Jacques Chirac both served part of their term in office in a 'cohabitation' - the term for when the president is forced to appoint an opposition politician as prime minister.

But should he resign?

The choice to call the snap elections was Macron's decision, it seems he took the decision after discussing it just a few close advisers and it surprised and/or infuriated even senior people in his own party.

If the poll leads to political chaos then, many will blame Macron personally and there will be many people calling for his resignation (although that's hardly new - Macron démission has been a regular cry from political opponents over the last seven years as he enacted policies that they didn't like).

Regardless of the morality of dealing with the fallout of your own errors, there is also the practicality - if current polling is to be believed, none of the parties are set to achieve an overall majority and the likely result with be an extremely protracted and messy stalemate with unstable governments, fragile coalitions and caretaker prime ministers. It might make sense to have some stability at the top, even if that figure is extremely personally unpopular.

He may leave the country immediately after the result of the second round, however. Washington is hosting a NATO summit on July 9th-11th and a French president would normally attend that as a representative of a key NATO member. 

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