(Paris) A blitzkrieg campaign began on Monday in France after Emmanuel Macron’s shock decision to dissolve the Assembly and call legislative elections at the end of June, a presidential poker move which places the far right in a position of strength and plunges into uncertainty a pillar country of the European Union.

To everyone’s surprise, Mr. Macron drew this constitutional weapon rarely used in France on Sunday evening after the triumph in the European elections of the National Rally (RN, far right), which collected twice as many votes as the presidential Renaissance party (31, 36% versus 14.60%).  

Elsewhere in the EU, the far right confirmed its current momentum on Sunday, particularly in Germany where the AfD rose to second place ahead of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s SPD, without upsetting the major balances. The grand European coalition of the centre-right and the social democrats should thus retain the majority in Brussels.

Despite his defeat, Chancellor Scholz ruled out early legislative elections in Germany, refusing to follow the path opened by Emmanuel Macron who attempted an “extreme” and “perilous” gamble, according to editorialists, by calling a new ballot.

“I have confidence in the ability of the French people to make the fairest choice for themselves and for future generations,” the French head of state assured on X, kicking off three weeks campaign under tension.

The first round will be held on June 30, the second on July 7, and France could have a new government by the time it hosts the Paris Olympics (July 26-August 11).

These elections “will not disrupt the Olympics,” said International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach on Monday. The Kremlin said it was “following carefully” the rise of the far right in Europe.

In France, where the left is trying to overcome its divisions, the RN has never been so close to power and its young leader Jordan Bardella (28), who led the party’s list in the European elections, is already applying for the position of prime minister. minister in the event of victory.

The RN is “ready to exercise power,” Marine Le Pen, who lost in the second round of the last two presidential elections to Emmanuel Macron, said on Sunday. The victory of his party could lead to “cohabitation” between the two heads of the executive, an institutional situation tested three times under the Fifth Republic.

Surprised by the dissolution, the presidential camp is trying to put itself in battle order. “It’s a shock, very brutal for everyone but we’re getting back to it,” said MP Eleonore Caroit, spokesperson for the Macronist group in the Assembly.

Calling all “republican forces” to mobilize, Stéphane Séjourné, Minister of Foreign Affairs and boss of Renaissance, assured that outgoing deputies from other parties but from “the republican field” could benefit from the investiture of the presidential party .

However, the climate does not seem favorable to the majority, according to observers. “There is a very strong desire on the part of the French to sanction the President of the Republic,” underlines Odoxa pollster Céline Bracq.

With the dissolution, “the president took the lead in something that seemed inevitable to everyone”, a member of the government wants to believe but “there was another way”, according to the outgoing president of the National Assembly Yaël Braun-Pivet .    

Continuing the commemorations linked to the Second World War, Emmanuel Macron went Monday to Oradour-sur-Glane (center), scene of a massacre committed by the Nazis in 1944, alongside the German president who expressed his “feeling of shame.”

“It is precisely the day after the European elections that I declare: let us never forget the damage caused in Europe by nationalism and hatred! “, said Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

For the French left, negotiations are likely to be difficult between parties which formed a coalition for the 2022 legislative elections but were divided during the European campaign, particularly around the war in Gaza.

Leaders of La France insoumise (radical left) sent a “meeting proposal” Monday afternoon to the Socialist, Communist and Green parties to “work towards unity”.

In the meantime, time is suspended in the National Assembly, where deputies were examining a bill on the end of life. “It’s a bit of a blow. Nobody saw the blow coming,” slips a parliamentary source.