Emmanuel Macron was re-elected as President of France on Sunday, 24 April after winning 58.5% of the vote in the second round of the 2022 French presidential election. His re-election comes on the back of a campaign that focused strengthening France’s sovereignty, while opposition candidate Marine Le Pen focused on social and economic issues. In this Just the Facts, France’s political system, the 2022 campaign and results are examined.
Background: France’s Political System
A bicameral political system, the French parliament consists of two chambers, the National Assembly and the Senate.
As the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly plays the predominant role in the French legislative process. With a total of 577 seats available, deputies are elected by single-member constituencies through a two-round voting process, for a five-year term. A total of 289 seats are needed for any one party to form a working majority in the National Assembly. The next elections for the National Assembly take place in June 2022.
The Senate, the upper house, has 348 senators, who are elected indirectly by local councillors and representatives of French people living abroad, for six-year terms. Half of the seats come up for election every three years. The next indirect election for the Senate will be in 2023.
While in many European countries prime ministers hold most of the political power, the President of France is the head of state, head of the executive and commander-in-chief of the French Armed Forces. As a result, the role bears significant responsibilities in domestic and foreign policy. Since May 2017, Emmanuel Macron, leader of La République En Marche! (The Republic On The Move!) has been president.
France operates a two-round voting system for both for the presidential and parliamentary elections. Each round of voting takes places two weeks apart. In the presidential election, the top two candidates move forward to the second round if no candidate has achieved 51% of votes in the first round.
The current system was introduced, via a referendum, in October 1962. General Charles de Gaulle, often described as “the founding father of the Fifth Republic” which began in 1958, “was wary of the power of political parties, so campaigned for a two-round voting system to dilute their influence.”
2022 Presidential Election Campaign
The 2022 election campaign focused on several issues. With increased inflation and high energy prices, purchasing power and the ability to buy goods was a top concern. Broad questions around security, defence and NATO membership in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 also featured heavily. Other issues included tackling climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic and immigration.
On Wednesday, 20 April, following the first round, the only TV debate between centralist Macron of En Marche! and far-right Le Pen of the Rassemblement National (National Rally) took place. Le Pen spoke of changing the EU from within and returning more powers to EU Member States, having changed her previous position of leaving the EU. “Macron argued that her idea of a ‘Europe of nations’ would spell the end of the EU”.
During the TV debate, Le Pen promised a referendum on immigration in France, including banning the wearing of headscarves in public. She condemned “anarchic and massive immigration” that had contributed to a sense of insecurity in France. Macron believed such policies, in particular the banning of the headscarf, would betray French values. He said, “it was intolerant and she was pushing millions of compatriots out of the public space on account of their religion”.
2022 Election Results
In the first round of the presidential election on 10 April 2022, Macron won 27.85% (9.7m votes) of the vote, up from the 24% (8.6m) he received in the first round in April 2017. Le Pen came second with 23.15% (8.1m), also an increasing her vote share from 2017, when she won 21.30% (7.6m).
Narrowly missing out on the second round by some 400,000 votes was far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon of La France Insoumise (France Unbowed). He increased his vote from 2017 when he won 19.58% (7m), to 21.95% (7.7m) in 2022.
The traditional parties of the political centre-right (The Republicans) and left (the Socialist Party) both performed poorly, winning 4.78% and 1.74% respectfully. Both parties traditionally dominated political life in the Fifth Republic – the Republican’s candidate Nicolas Sarkozy on the French presidential election in 2009 and François Hollande for the Socialist Party in 2012.
In the second round of voting on 24 April 2022, Macon won the vote with 58.54% (18.7m votes) and decline from the second round in May 2017, where he had secured 66.10% (20.7m) of votes. Le Pen won 41.46% (13.2m), an increase from the last presidential election where she had won 33.90% (10.6m).
Acknowledging that many had voted for him to counter Le Pen, Macron applauded the people’s “sense of duty” and their “attachment to the Republic.” He also assured French citizens that he would be a “President for each and every one of you,” and promised to tackle “doubts and divisions” within the country.
|Canidate||Party||% of 2022 Vote – 1st Round||% of 2022 Vote – 2nd Round||European Parliament Group|
|Emmanuel Macron||La République En Marche!||27.85%||58.54%||Renew Europe|
|Marine Le Pen||National Rally||23.15%||41.46%||Identity and Democracy|
|Jean-Luc Mélenchon||La France Insoumise||21.95%||The Left in the European Parliament|
|Valérie Pécresse||The Republicans||4.78%||European People’s Party|
|Yannick Jadot||Europe Ecology – The Greens||4.63%||Greens–European Free Alliance|
|Fabien Roussel||French Communist Party||2.28%||The Left in the European Parliament|
|Nicolas Dupont-Aignan||Debout la France||2.06%||European Conservatives and Reformists Party|
|Anne Hidalgo||Socialist Party||1.74%||Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats|
|Philippe Poutou||New Anticapitalist Party||0.76%||–|
|Nathalie Arthaud||Lutte Ouvrière||0.56%||–|