Politics For Members

French elections: What happens next as far-right lead in round one?

Emma Pearson
Emma Pearson - [email protected]
French elections: What happens next as far-right lead in round one?
French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte going to vote on Sunday. Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP

The results for the first round of France's snap elections show the far-right with a strong lead. But we're only half way there with the second round of voting to come. Here's what happens next.


The final results for round one of voting, released early on Monday morning, showed the far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party well in the lead with 33.4 percent of the votes.

They were followed by the alliance of leftist parties, called the Nouveau Front Populaire on 28 percent, Macron's centrist group Ensemble on 20.8 percent, and the right-wing Les Republicains party on 10.2 percent.

Follow the latest on the results HERE.

Two-rounds of voting

In this election the first and second rounds are just one week apart - voters will return on Sunday, July 7th and make their choice between the second-round candidates. Votes are not carried forward between the rounds, meaning that July 7th is a blank slate.

Not all candidates get to stand in the second round of the vote and some groups may withdraw their candidates meaning the second round could be very different.


The two highest scorers from round one go through, along with any other candidate who gets more than 12.5 percent of the total votes cast.

Usually round two is a two-horse race, but the high turnout at these elections mean that more three or even four-way contests are likely in round two.

READ ALSO How does France's two round voting system work?

First round results 

Therefore the results of round one tell us only who will be the candidates for each area in round two - not who has or will win.

That's still pretty significant though, and naturally round one results give an indication of how people are likely to vote in round two.


The next few hours and days are likely to be taken up with deals.

Typically in French elections, the defeated parties will urge their supporters to vote for one side or the other in the second round.

That's usually even more the case when a far-right candidate is still involved - parties will call on voters to Faire un barrage (make a roadblock) against the far right, or invoke Le Front républicain, the term for when parties unite across the political divide to combat the far-right.

READ MORE: French elections: Will parties withdraw candidates to block the far right?

After the results were released, Macron called for a "broad" democratic alliance against the far-right.

"Faced with Rassemblement National, the time has come for a broad, clearly democratic and republican alliance for the second round," he said in a statement.

In a three-way contest, parties also have the option of withdrawing their third-placed candidate in order to avoid splitting the vote - for example in a three-way contest between a centrist, a leftist and a far-right candidate the centrist and leftists may decide between them to withdraw one candidate in order not to split the anti-far right vote.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon and other Nouveau Front Populaire leaders announced that the group would withdraw its candidates in any constituency where they finished third place after round one.

"Our instructions are clear: not one more vote, not one more seat for the RN", said Mélenchon.

Fellow NFP leader Rahaël Glucksmann said: "We have seven days to avoid a catastrophe for France."


Voters who find the second-round choices unpalatable have the option of abstaining (which is why turnout will be carefully monitored) or casting a 'vote blanc' - a blank ballot paper - to express their opposition.

Next Sunday

The second round of voting takes place on Sunday, July 7th and - like round one - provisional results will be released at 8pm.

READ MORE: Explained: The big names and main parties in France's snap elections

A party needs a minimum of 289 seats to get an overall majority in parliament - any party that gets this number will be able to put forward their candidate for prime minister. If it is either RN or NPF, that prime minister will then enter a cohabitation with President Macron - who remains president whatever the results are.

If no group or party gets 289 seats, then we're in for messy and protracted negotiations.

The most likely scenarios are either a coalition or some kind of 'government of national unity', perhaps headed by a figure from outside politics.

Truthfully, however, no-one really knows since this has never happened since the start of the Fifth Republic in 1958. We're entering uncharted waters . . .

READ MORE: Will the French far-right get a majority in parliament?



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