President Emmanuel Macron’s re-election prospects in the 2022 ballot remain strong. According to opinion surveys (from 1 March), he had a comfortable lead and is likely to secure a second mandate regardless of which candidate runs against him in a second round. Also helping his chances are pro-Russian sympathies of some far-right and far-left presidential candidates, which could easily cost them politically amid a context of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine.
But a scenario in which the incoming president has to contend with lower parliamentary support for his/her political agenda has become more likely as political fragmentation in the National Assembly has reached an elevated stage, while polarisation, reflected in rise of extreme political forces, has increased. This could constrain the next administration’s ability to deliver on structural reform and address outstanding credit challenges (France is rated by Scope AA/Stable).
France elections 2022: Potential political configuration and expected impact on reform momentum
High levels of political fragmentation
With nine different political groups, the National Assembly has reached some of its highest levels of political fragmentation in the history of the Fifth Republic. But while politics have become more polarised, tail risks related to major policy shifts have been reduced since gradual moderation of far-right and far-left positioning with regard to ‘Frexit’, which none of the major candidates today support, despite Eurosceptic inclinations.
France’s mainstream parties on the right and left were diminished by the launch of President Macron’s party at time of 2017 general elections but the initial dynamic behind Macron and his party has weakened over the run of his presidential term. These factors have increased the risk of the next French President having to form alliances or a coalition in response to a weaker standing in the National Assembly or ending up with an antagonistic National Assembly and governing only via co-habitation.
Broad similarities between the centre-right and mainstream right agendas
Although the centre-right and mainstream right agendas diverge in some areas, there are broad similarities, such as a deep attachment with pro-European policies, ambitious reform plans to support business-friendly conditions and pursuing a modernised but relatively significant social policy agenda. The moderate tone of their proposals in comparison with that of other extreme candidates could render the impact on reform momentum somewhat similar and increase their ability to secure political alliances.
Our view is that more moderate candidates are the most likely to either secure a standalone majority in the National Assembly or maintain a minimum level of reform momentum thanks to presumed abilities to build alliances with other political forces.
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