France's president just dissolved part of his own government after far-right wins in European Parliament. What that means — and what's next.

Early results from the European Union's parliamentary elections over the weekend showed significant gains for far-right political parties, signaling a shift to the right for the 27-nation lawmaking bloc.

Among the countries where right-wing nationalists took home a decisive win was France, prompting the country’s liberal president, Emmanuel Macron, to take emergency action in an effort to stop the French far-right movement in its tracks.

Following a crushing defeat for his centrist party by the anti-immigration National Rally party, led by Marine Le Pen, Macron moved to dissolve the National Assembly, the lower legislative chamber of French parliament, and called for a snap election.

Here’s what that means and what’s next:

🇫🇷 Who is Emmanuel Macron?

Emmanuel Macron, 46, launched a liberal political movement in 2016 known as “En Marche!,” now known as the Renaissance party, and won the presidential election in May 2017.

He was re-elected in April 2022. That’s also when the liberal political coalition known as the Ensemble, of which Macron’s party is a part, lost their majority in the National Assembly. (Conservatives also held on to its majority in the French Senate in recent September 2023 elections.)

Since 2022, it has been difficult for Macron to pass any sort of legislation through the National Assembly without having to use a controversial constitutional method known as Article 49.3 of the French constitution, which enables the government to pass bills through the lower chamber without a vote. The act is limited to one regular bill per parliamentary session, but is unlimited when it comes to budget bills.

🗳️ What did Macron do?

Macron decided to dissolve the 577-seat National Assembly on Sunday. As president, he is allowed to do this under Article 12 of the French constitution in an effort to resolve political crises.

In a televised speech Sunday, Macron acknowledged the snap election was a “serious, weighty decision,” but also called it “an act of trust” in French voters. The National Assembly is elected to a five-year term, so the next vote would have otherwise not been held until 2027.. The French Senate cannot be dissolved early and won’t be subject to the snap elections.

"The rise of nationalists and demagogues is a danger for our nation and for Europe," Macron said in a televised speech Sunday. "After this day, I cannot go on as though nothing has happened," Macron said, acknowledging the crushing defeat in the European Union elections.

Meanwhile, Macron's political rival Le Pen, who represents the National Rally party in parliament, welcomed the snap election. "We are ready to exercise power if the French people place their trust in us in these upcoming parliamentary elections," Le Pen said on Sunday evening.

🔎 Why is his decision significant?

While the snap election won’t concern Macron’s position as French president, for which he has three years left in his term, he is still taking a huge gamble on potentially handing the far-right National Rally party majority control of the National Assembly. (An absolute majority requires one party to hold 289 seats. Currently, Macron’s party and political allies have 250 seats, while the National Rally has 88 seats.)

If the National Rally secures a majority, Macron could be faced with a “cohabitation” situation where he would have to choose a prime minister of a different political party. This could make it very difficult for Macron to accomplish any aspects of his domestic agenda on policy changes or key pieces of legislation.

The National Party's president, 28-year old Jordan Bardella, is the party's candidate for prime minister in the snap election, according to Reuters.

"Tonight, our compatriots have expressed a desire for change," Bardella said Sunday. "Emmanuel Macron is tonight a weakened president."

The TikTok star has described himself as Le Pen’s attack dog in television appearances, but has also shown his inexperience in policy, Reuters reports.

Such revelations are why some suggest a National Rally win might actually be good for Macron. Reuters reports that a source close to Macron said that if the National Rally party wins, the next three years could show the far-right's incompetence to voters, undermining their hopes for the presidency in 2027.

🇺🇸 What could this mean for the U.S.?

In June 2016, just months before Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election, a majority of voters in the United Kingdom voted in favor of the country’s departure from the EU, known as Brexit.

Now, voters in both the U.S. and Europe are faced with many of the same economic and immigration-related issues that drove support for both Brexit and Trump in 2016. The Washington Post reports that the outcome of France's snap election could once again " anticipate aspects of the November elections in the United States."

➡️ What happens next?

Voting in the snap election will take place in two rounds: the first on June 30 and the second on July 7. The new National Assembly will be installed in July. Macron won’t be able to dissolve the new government for a full year after the election takes place, according to Article 12 of the French constitution.

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