Polling stations open for first round of French parliamentary elections

Polling stations in France opened at 8.00 on Sunday for the first round of the parliamentary elections. About 49 million voters are heading to the polls. 

People can vote until 18.00, or 20.00 in major cities. Turnout is expected to be high, at around 67 per cent of registered voters, well above the 47.51 per cent in the first round of the 2022 elections. The second round takes place a week later, on 7 July. 

A total of 410,000 French citizens living outside France have already voted online in the first round. 

At stake are 577 seats in the parliament, the Assemblée nationale. In a poll last weekend, the far-right National Rally (RN) was in the lead with 35.5 per cent, followed by the left-wing alliance New Popular Front, a left-wing alliance of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France insoumise, communists, greens and socialists, on 29.5 per cent. President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance is third with 19.5 per cent. 

Warning of unrest

According to those polls, RN, the former National Front, would go from 88 to more than 200 seats, while Renaissance could lose half its seats. A cohabitation, where the president has to share power with a prime minister from another party, would require RN to obtain 289 seats. 

Interior minister Gérald Darmanin warned on Friday of unrest. “On the evening of the first ballot and undoubtedly on the evening of the second ballot, when the final results are announced, the ultra-left and ultra-right could take the opportunity to cause chaos,” he told broadcaster France Info. 

"The functioning of our Assemblée nationale and the disorder of recent months could not continue"

Macron called the snap election on 9 June after his party suffered a major loss in the European elections, with Renaissance and its allies winning 14.6 per cent of the French vote against RN’s 31.37 per cent. The president, who has three years left of his second term, is hoping voters will contain the far right in the national elections.

In an open letter last week, he defended his decision, considered a gamble by French media. “It was the only possible choice,” he said. “The functioning of our Assemblée nationale and the disorder of recent months could not continue.”


Voting in Cours, France, 30 June 2024 © PHOTO ADRIEN FILLON/HANS LUCAS VIA AFP

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