In a surprising political move, French President Emmanuel Macron announced snap legislative elections following a significant defeat by the right National Rally (RN) in the European parliamentary elections. The RN secured approximately 32% of the vote, doubling the 15% garnered by Macron’s allies. Macron’s Renaissance party holds 169 seats in the national assembly, while the RN has 88.

This decision, viewed as a high-stakes gamble for Macron’s political future, could potentially empower the far-right, fundamentally altering French domestic policy. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire emphasized the importance of this election, describing it as the most consequential parliamentary election in the history of the Fifth Republic. The elections are scheduled for June 30, with a second round on July 7, just before the Paris Olympics.

While an outright far-right majority is deemed unlikely, analysts note that European election results often differ from parliamentary outcomes. Macron’s strategy appears to be a proactive attempt to regain control by forcing the RN into an election campaign sooner than anticipated, catching many far-right leaders off-guard.

The RN’s deputy chair, Sébastien Chenu, acknowledged the unexpected timing but called for unity among rightwing lawmakers. Jordan Bardella, the RN’s 28-year-old president, is slated to be their candidate for prime minister, with Marine Le Pen, a prominent far-right figure, expected to run for president again in 2027.

Macron’s decision has been met with mixed reactions. Some within his party, like Yael Braun-Pivet, expressed reservations, suggesting coalition-building as a potentially better approach. Critics argue that the snap elections are risky and disruptive, especially with the impending Olympic Games in Paris. Despite these concerns, Macron defended his decision as an act of confidence in the French people’s ability to choose wisely for their future.

The legislative elections will be crucial in determining the direction of French politics and whether Macron can maintain his presidency’s influence amidst rising far-right support.