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France’s Macron calls election his far-right rival Le Pen could win


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French President Emmanuel Macron.

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French President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to call a snap national election after a surge for his far-right rivals is a high-stakes move and a huge political gamble, analysts say.

Macron’s decision to call a snap parliamentary vote comes after the right-wing National Rally (RN) party, with Marine Le Pen as the figurehead, won around 31% of the vote in Sunday’s European Parliament election. That was more than double the 14.6% seen for Macron’s pro-European and centrist Renaissance Party and its allies.

France’s CAC 40 slumped 1.8% in early trading Monday morning with French banks trading sharply lower. BNP Paribas and Societe Generale led the Stoxx 600‘s losses, both down by around 6%. The euro was also down some 0.4% against the dollar amid the uncertainty.

“This is an essential time for clarification,” Macron said in a national address Sunday evening as he announced his decision to dissolve parliament.

“I have heard your message, your concerns and I will not leave them unanswered … France needs a clear majority to act in serenity and harmony,” he added. The first round of voting will take place on June 30, with a second to be held on July 7.

His party might lose

As it stands, Macron’s Renaissance Party has 169 seats in France’s lower house of parliament, out of a total of 577 seats, and the RN has 88 seats.

An Ipsos poll of 4,000 people who were asked about their voting intentions last December suggested the RN could win 243–305 seats, giving it a majority in Parliament.

If we did see such a result in the forthcoming election, Macron would likely come under pressure to appoint a prime minister from the party who would have a significant say over France’s domestic and economic policy, although Macron — as president — will remain in charge of foreign policy, justice and defense. RN is technically fronted in Europe by Jordan Bardella, 28, who is seen as Le Pen’s protégé. But Le Pen is still very much seen as the party’s main figurehead.

Daniel Hamilton, senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University SAIS, described Macron’s decision as the “big story” of the wider European Parliament vote over the last few days, and one which could easily lead to a seismic shift in France’s government in which Macron “would have to govern with his nemesis, basically.”

“His gamble is to use the three years before the next presidential elections to show they did a really bad job and that somehow the voters will reward him, so it’s a huge political gamble and it’s going to create a lot of uncertainty in France,” he told CNBC Monday.

Macron will be making a 'huge political gamble' with French snap elections: Analyst

“While a lot can happen in the coming weeks, the available information suggests Macron has called an election he might lose,” Antonio Barroso, deputy director of Research at consultancy Teneo said in a note late Sunday, saying Macron was “likely trying to make the best of a bad political situation.”

Barroso believed Macron would…



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