The European Parliament election on June 6-9 saw overall gains for right-of-center parties without a feared surge toward the far right. Across individual EU member states, however, the degree to which voters turned to the right was uneven. GMF’s Europe-based experts offer below their analyses of the results in select countries.

In France, as in most EU member states, European Parliament (EP) elections are really about domestic politics. That made the landslide victory of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in the French vote unsurprising. What followed within hours, however, was a political earthquake. President Emmanuel Macron’s dissolution of the National Assembly to “give back to French voters the choice of our future” could see a far-right government in Paris by mid-July. Here is how it all could play out:

Act 1: The National Rally’s Expected Victory

The EP election results were largely in line with the most recent polls. The National Rally (RN), led by 28-year-old Jordan Bardella, got more than twice as many votes as Macron’s Renaissance (RE) party, which came in second. Add in the results for Reconquête, another far-right party, and 35 out of the 81 French seats in the EP will come from that fringe of the political spectrum. The RN alone did better than the Socialists, the far-left La France Insoumise, and the Greens combined, which split the vote of the left. Since most of France’s new EP delegation will not be part of the ruling coalition in Brussels or able to forge agreements with their German counterparts, the country’s influence over EU policymaking will drop.

Act 2: A Parliamentary Shock

Since his reelection in 2022, Macron has struggled without a majority in the National Assembly. His government has needed to build fragile coalitions with the right, which has put the legitimacy of his policy agenda in question. The EP election results now leave Macron a political dead end. His only way out—maybe—is through two-round National Assembly elections, which he has called much sooner than many expected. He risks becoming a lame-duck president but hopes he can avoid that fate by giving his opposition almost no time to prepare for a campaign that will culminate on June 30 and July 7. 

Act 3: Faites Vos Jeux

Macron places his bet based on two scenarios. This first sees an RN majority in the National Assembly upon which it builds a government. The president’s hope here is that the far right fails in power and dooms RN leader Marine Le Pen’s chances to win the 2027 presidential election. Given France’s worrisome economic prospects and the multiplying geopolitical crises that the country faces, this is possible. It may even be the best way to prevent a Le Pen presidency. In the interim, Macron could emerge as the far right’s main opponent by using his presidential powers to block an RN government’s most controversial moves. 

The second scenario sees Macron’s RE benefitting from a chronically divided French left and gaining seats in parliament. This could come about if, after the first round of voting, the prospect of an RN parliamentary majority propels left-leaning voters to back RE candidates in the second round. This scenario, although especially dubious, aligns with Macron’s unbroken belief that he can snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat into a win. 

Over the next month, as this plays out, no one in France will talk about Europe.