Why did Macron call snap elections and what does it mean for France?

Polls had barely closed for the European elections when President Emmanuel Macron called voters back to the ballot box to elect a new French parliament – three years ahead of schedule. What's behind his surprise decision, and what happens next?

"After today, I cannot act as if nothing had happened," Macron told viewers in a prime-time address to the nation on Sunday night, reacting to results from EU elections that showed a surge for his far-right opponents.

Their gains – which saw the far-right National Rally (RN) win more than double the number of seats in the European Parliament that Macron's centrist bloc secured – had pushed him to give French voters the chance to change their own parliament early, he announced.

"France needs a clear majority if it is to act in serenity and harmony," Macron said, not political bargains and "precarious solutions".

"Nothing could be more republican than giving a sovereign people their say."

But if the President presented it as the only democratic thing to do, others say his move is a calculated gamble.

At the head of a minority

Macron's argument is that the EU election results set the nail in the coffin of a parliament that was already struggling.


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