French President Emmanuel Macron calls snap elections in significant political gamble

 June 30, 2024

Something of a political shift has taken hold across Europe in recent weeks, and it now appears that France may be on the verge of significant change in keeping with that trend.

French President Emmanuel Macron, after suffering setbacks in recent European parliamentary elections, made a surprise decision to hold snap elections in his country, but not before placing a call to President Joe Biden to inform him of the move, according to Politico.

Startling early defeat

As the Associated Press reported, it was earlier this month that Macron and his allies suffered significant defeat at the hands of right-leaning politicians from the National Rally party in the European elections.

In that contest, candidates affiliated with the conservative party led by Marine Le Pen garnered upwards of 32% of the votes, more than doubling the tally secured by Macron's Renaissance party.

Responding to the shock outcome, Macron moved to dissolve the lower house of the French parliament and called snap early elections set to occur in two phases, on June 30 and July 7, respectively.

Macron's presidential term runs until 2027, and though he has indicated no plans to step aside before then, the conservative surge taking hold and the prospect of substantial losses for his party suggest that he could find himself having to share power with a prime minister from National Rally's ranks.

Biden alerted

Prior to telling his countrymen of the impending parliamentary elections on national television, Macron reportedly put in a call to the Whtie House to inform Biden, who had just completed a five-day stint in France for D-Day commemorations.

According to sources close to the president, there was sense of surprise about Macron's decision, which was viewed as inherently risky, but with the passage of time, however, Biden insiders have reportedly grown alarmed and simultaneously frustrated by the increasing likelihood of a Macron loss.

Politico quoted former American diplomat Jeff Rathke, who opined, “People recognized from the start that the decision to have early elections was a risky one, but what is becoming more clear in the weeks since is that Macron did not have his ducks in a row to give the best possible chance of success for his bold gambit.”

Biden's team harbors concerns that Macron's decision could send ripple effects far beyond his home country and cause a weakening within the European Union at a time when unity with regard to topics such as support for Ukraine is viewed by the White House has paramount.

First-round elections commence

With French voters beginning to cast their ballots on Sunday, polling suggests that Macron is poised for a disappointing result.

As NBC News noted, one pollster revealed that National Rally is in a leading position with 36% of the vote, with the New Popular Front coalition of leftist politicians pulling 29%.

Macron's own coalition stands in third place at 19.5%, something which does not bode well for his ability to exert a great deal of influence in the government that would ultimately emerge if such a scenario holds.

Political commentator Samantha de Bendern observed, “The center has imploded. Macron miscalculated. He was hoping the moderate left and moderate right would both come to him. Instead, they've both joined the extremes,” and how the White House -- and the world -- will react to what appears to be an undeniable shift in wide swaths of Europe is something that remains to be seen.

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