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Friday Briefing: French election to watch


French President Emmanuel Macron shocked the country by dissolving parliament and calling early elections after his party was defeated by the far right in the European elections. France was in political turmoil on Sunday as voters went to the polls for the first round of voting.

To get some insight, my colleague Daniel Slotnik spoke with Roger Cohen, Paris bureau chief for The New York Times.

What are the dangers?

Roger: Well, President Macron is betting big. The odds are that the far-right National Rally could win a majority, or even an outright majority, in the country’s parliament. That would mean the end of France’s absolute postwar taboo against the far right from the highest posts in government.

Why is Macron calling for this vote after his disastrous defeat in the European Parliament elections?

Some believe he may be calculating that if the National Alliance enters government now, the party will lose credibility by the time of the 2027 presidential election because governing the country is much more difficult than grumbling outside the gates of power.

Do you think this is a reasonable strategy?

No. I think, first of all, it’s unnecessary. Second, it’s extremely risky. Third, the Olympics are less than three weeks away and all eyes are going to be on France. Fourth, if the far right does win, then the potential for street violence, protests, and chaos increases. So, fifth, is the president really prepared for France to be in chaos when the Olympics start?

Now, none of that might happen. But is that wise? Is that prudent? Is that rational? I really don’t think so.

What do the French people think about this?

The general mood here is one of consternation, confusion and tension, but much of this tension has surfaced, with people worried about violent demonstrations if the far right wins a big victory.

What do you think might happen?

I think the most likely outcome is that the National Rally wins – there’s maybe a 20% chance that they’ll win an outright majority. But more likely, they’ll be the largest party. Macron would then face a parliament dominated by the National Rally, which has a large number of far-left figures, and his party and his relative power in parliament would be greatly weakened.

More on the French election:

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Today is my last day writing the Asia Pacific Morning Briefing. On Monday, I’ll join our international desk to cover breaking news from London.

It has been a great honor and a pleasant challenge to write this newsletter. I have learned a lot from my colleagues and from you, my loyal readers. I am very grateful for your insightful and inspiring emails. Thank you for giving us a few minutes of your time and for participating in our work. I know you will be in good hands.

If you have suggestions, story ideas or even London recommendations, please contact me. My email address is amelia.nierenberg@nytimes.com.

Thank you for your trust and reading.

Daniel E. Slotnick Contributed reporting.

That’s all for today. Have a great weekend and have a great rest of the year! — Amelia

You can contact our team via the following methods: briefing@nytimes.com.

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