I was in France during the campaign for the second round of the Assembly elections there.

Looking around, you would not think there was an election on at all. A few posters on official notice boards, but no sign of anyone campaigning anywhere.

As it transpired, the turnout was below 50% ,in what was an important election for the next 5 years for France and Europe. Perhaps too high a price is being paid for the avoidance of election litter on French streets!

President Macron’s Coalition of 3 parties obtained 38.4% of the vote and 245 seats, well short of the required overall majority of 289.

The traditional Centre right party of France, les Republicans, obtained 64 seats with 7.5% of the vote. They might be persuaded to help Macron get a majority on key issues, like raising the pension age, something they themselves tried and failed to do when in power.

But Macron’s coalition has siphoned away many voters and former key figures of les Republicans, so this would not be an easy negotiation.

Rassemblement National, the former Front National of Marine le Pen did well.

 It got 17.2% of the vote and 89 seats. It seems to have normalised itself.  In straight contests between it and the Left Coalition (NUPES), many middle ground voters voted for neither group, staying at home or voting blank papers, rather than voting against the Rassemblement National, as they would have done in the past.

This was partly because the Left was led on this occasion by a polarising figure Jean Luc Melanchon, a very different figure to Francois Hollande, the last President coming from the Left.

President Macron will have to work very hard to build coalitions in the National Assembly to get legislation through. This will leave him less time for EU and international affairs. All in all not a good election result for Ireland or  the EU.

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