Politics & Economics

Between the two rounds of parliamentary elections in France: ‘triangular’ contests, duels, and withdrawals

July 2024
By Eleonore Para

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In France, MPs are elected by direct universal suffrage by voters registered on the electoral roll. The voting system is a two-round, constituency-based majority system. Following the dissolution of the National Assembly, the first round of early elections took place on Sunday 30 June, with the second round to be held on Sunday 7 July.

The results of the first round of the legislative elections in France mark a major turning point in the national political landscape. With a turnout of 66.7%, compared with 47.5% for the last legislative elections 2022, the French have expressed their preferences in a context marked by crucial economic, social, and environmental issues.

Ensemble pour la République, the presidential coalition (Renaissance, MoDem, Horizons) won 20.04% of the vote. The Rassemblement National (RN) won 29.25% of the vote (33% if the score of the RN’s allies – the Union of the Extreme Right – is included). The left-wing coalition under the banner of the Nouveau Front Populaire (NFP), comprising La France Insoumise (LFI), the Parti Socialiste (PS), the Greens (EELV) and the Parti Communiste (PCF), won 28.06% of the vote. The Republicans (LR) obtained 6.57% of the vote.

The strong electoral mobilization enabled many candidates to be elected in the first round, winning more than 50% of the votes, representing at least 25% of registered voters. On 30 June, 76 deputies were elected in the first round: 39 RN deputies, 32 NFP deputies, 2 Ensemble deputies, 1 LR deputy, and 2 Divers droite deputies.

This leaves 501 seats to be filled out of the 577 seats in the National Assembly. Only certain candidates were eligible to stand in the second round: the two candidates who came first in the first round; and subsequent candidates, provided they had obtained several votes at least equal to 12.5% of the number of registered voters.

When three candidates qualify for the second round, this is known as a triangular, and when four candidates qualify, it is known as a quadrangular. At the end of the vote on 30 June, 306 triangular results were recorded by the Ministry of the Interior, compared with 5 quadrangular results and 190 duel results. On the morning of Wednesday 3 July, there were only 89 triangular results, 2 quadrangular results, and 409 duels. 221 candidates withdrew from the second round, to reduce the number of triangular contests and thus block the way for the Rassemblement National. As Prime Minister Gabriel Attal reiterated on France Inter on Wednesday 3 July, “The first challenge of this second round is to do everything possible to ensure that the far right does not have an absolute majority”.

In the second round, the candidate who obtains the most votes is elected. In the event of a tie, the oldest candidate is elected.