As pollsters expected, President Emmanuel Macron has won a second term over far-right opponent Marine Le Pen.
His next hurdle will be to extend his momentum to the National Assembly elections, where he will face stiff competition. The results of these elections will influence his ability to execute on his campaign promises, including structural pro-business economic reforms, increased government involvement in critical industries, and pushing for stronger economic tools at the EU level.
Please see below for a detailed breakdown of the policies Macron will try to enact during his second term, as well as an outlook on the National Assembly elections.
- Economic competitiveness: To reach full employment within five years, Macron has proposed:
- €50 billion in tax cuts, divided equally between households and businesses.
- Increasing the retirement age to 65 from 62.
- Reforming France’s professional retraining programs to target the most in-demand sectors, with a special focus on sectors impacted by the clean energy transition.
- A more demanding system for unemployed individuals, tying public unemployment support to additional proof of efforts to find employment.
- Giving companies more flexibility to buy annual leave days back from workers.
- Security & energy independence: Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Macron has pledged increased military spending, reinforcing France’s status as the most dominant military in the EU. He is also arguing for the government to nationalize some energy companies and get more directly involved in critical industries.
- Nuclear: France obtains approximately 70% of its electricity from nuclear power, more than any other EU country. As Europe reckons with its dependence on Russia for natural gas, Macron has doubled down, pledging to construct up to 14 new-generation reactors and a fleet of smaller nuclear plants. Macron is positioning nuclear as key both to securing energy independence and fighting climate change.
- What it means: Macron’s proponents argue that his policies have led France to a 7.4% unemployment rate, the lowest in decades. In his second term, he will seek to continue making France a friendlier place to do business in areas like the agriculture, maritime and digital sectors.
- But: Under Macron, the French government could become a more active player in critical infrastructure, particularly the energy sector, which will likely face scrutiny and regulation, and possibly even nationalization, in light of security threats from Russia and others.
- This is emblematic of Macron’s effort to bridge the left-right divide in France – liberalizing the French economy where possible while practicing protectionism where necessary.
- Proposals like increasing the retirement age will be extremely disruptive to the French political and economic status quo and will likely continue provoking mass protests.
- Integrating the EU: President Macron has advocated for additional joint European borrowing, after the EU made history with its first collective issuance of debt to address the economic fallout of the COVD-19 pandemic. By issuing new common debt, Macron aims to concentrate Europe’s collective power in Brussels and make Europe, and France, more resilient to economic shocks.
- IPCEI: The IPCEI, or Important Projects of Common European Interest, allows EU member states to invest together in strategically important sectors for Europe. Through this instrument, Europe has invested in areas including hydrogen, microelectronics, and batteries. France has been a strong advocate for this tool – companies that work in critical sectors can expect Macron to push for deeper EU-level investment in a second term.
- Creating an independent Europe: In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Macron has made building a more effective and independent EU a key part of his program. In particular, Macron has proposed a stronger EU in the following sectors:
- Energy: Through increasing clean energy usage and reducing imports of oil, gas, and coal. France has historically been nuclear energy’s largest advocate in the EU and will likely push for the sector to be a part of the EU’s energy independence plans.
- Technology: Through protecting and developing homegrown tech companies and ensuring the availability of key components like semi-conductors and cloud technology.
- Security: Through strengthening the EU’s common security policy and reinforcing coordination between European armed forces.
- Agriculture: France accounts for 18.4% of the entire EU’s agricultural output and receives a great degree of support from the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy. As the war in Ukraine generates massive wheat shortages, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, the EU will look to shore up its self-sufficiency in food and potentially provide aid to other regions.
- Other critical sectors: Through developing self-sufficiency for raw and rare materials production and strengthening the autonomy of the European health sector.
- Trade: Macron’s rhetoric points towards support of free trade policies at the European level. However, his actions suggest that he will advocate for protectionist policies when perceived necessary to protect Europe’s vulnerable sectors, particularly in technology and security.
- Climate: Even as he has called for aggressive climate policies, Macron has struggled to enact the changes needed to transition France away from fossil fuels – he faced massive protests during his first term over a proposed carbon tax on fuel, which he eventually abandoned. In a second term, he will advocate for stronger EU climate policies, promoting investment in clean energy even as the EU temporarily seeks to increase LNG imports amidst the war in Ukraine.
- What it means: During a second term, Macron will use France’s influence to push for an EU that is able to take more decisive action in support of Europe’s health, tech, and energy sectors, decreasing its reliance on third countries such as China, India, and the U.S. in critical industries. More than ever, companies need to think through how they are engaging with the EU’s institutions, particularly on trade and clean energy.
National Assembly Elections
Following the presidential elections, the National Assembly elections will take place on June 12th and 19th. These take place in two rounds and work under a majoritarian electoral system with single-winner districts. Typically, the National Assembly elections’ proximity to the presidential elections have given the newly elected president a solid majority. This year, however, opposition parties are positioned to possibly fare quite well, given Macron’s 54% disapproval rating. Given Macron’s unpopularity, this National Assembly election could play out more like European Parliament elections, featuring low turnout and support possibly going to parties that are not in power.
This opportunity is particularly true for France’s legacy mainstream parties, the Républicains and Socialistes, which fared poorly in the presidential elections but are hoping to leverage their historic connections in local districts to retain their National Assembly representation.
The main parties involved are:
- The Republic on the Move (centrist): President Macron’s party will try to hold onto its solid position in the National Assembly, even as support for Macron has eroded since his first election.
- The Républicains (right-wing): France’s traditional right-wing party is hoping to keep or expand its sizeable minority in the National Assembly amidst presidential candidate Valerie Pécresse’s poor performance, receiving only 4.8% of the vote. Despite this loss, the Républicains’s deep roots in local districts could still make them competitive to keep their position in the legislature. If this happens, they could be a coalitional partner to President Macron during his second term.
- The Socialistes (left): France’s legacy left-wing party remains deeply in crisis, with its presidential candidate receiving only 1.75% support in the presidential election. Despite this, their solid roots in France’s urban areas could allow them to retain enough seats in the National Assembly to form a parliamentary group. They face the threat of their voters being usurped by Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s far-left Rebellious France, which fared very well in the presidential election.
- National Rally (far-right): following a second-round presidential loss, Marine Le Pen’s party will try to broaden its National Assembly representation, currently only 6 out of 577 seats.
- Rebellious France (far-left): Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s party will seek to build on his momentum from the Presidential election, where he narrowly missed reaching the second round.
- The Greens: France’s environmentalist party is considering an alliance with the far-left Rebellious France party. The ongoing discussions between the two parties will determine whether they will agree not to run candidates in the same districts or if they could go as far as to form a coalition.
- Reconquête: This party was created by far-right candidate Eric Zemmour during his run for the presidency. Zemmour received 7.1% of the vote in the first round but has so-far failed to become locally established in a way that would make his party competitive in the National Assembly.
President Macron’s base will be tested here – many who voted for him in the presidential election to stave off a Le Pen presidency could give their National Assembly vote to the right-wing Républicains or far-left Rebellious France, which nearly made it to the second Presidential election round.
While much can change between now and June, the following election results are plausible:
- A Macron-led coalition: Macron could secure a majority through forming a coalition with the Républicains, provided the Républicains have a sufficient showing on election day.
- A Républicain-led opposition: Voters could give the parties opposed to Macron the ability to form a majority coalition against him. This will however require much better results for the Republicains than they achieved in the presidential election. In this case, known as “cohabitation” in France, Macron would be forced to negotiate over some of the key reforms and policies of his program. This could hinder Macron’s ability to push forward his reforms, particularly as he seeks to build momentum through enacting major policy changes during the first two weeks of his term.
- Far-left/right prospects: while both the far-left and far-right are likely to out-perform their past National Assembly showings, they remain unlikely to receive enough support to be recognized in the National Assembly.
- New elections: If neither Macron nor his opposition can agree on a governing coalition, Macron may dissolve the National Assembly and call for new legislative elections. This would be enormously unpopular and would likely be a last resort for Macron.
- What this means: If President Macron gets a coalitional majority, he will be able to more expediently enact his pro-business reforms. If he is faced with “cohabitation”, he will have to negotiate, most likely with a coalition led by the Républicains, slowing his momentum and likely watering down some of Macron’s more left-leaning proposals.