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POLITICS

Five maps to understand the French parliamentary election

From political deadlock to far-right gains, here are the essential maps you need to understand what happened in France's 2022 parliamentary elections.

Five maps to understand the French parliamentary election
French far-right party Rassemblement National (RN) leader Marine Le Pen poses while campaigning (Photo by Pascal GUYOT / AFP)

Almost two months after Emmanuel Macron won his re-election campaign – the first French president to do so in France in almost twenty years – the French people have voted not to give him an absolute majority in parliament.

Instead, opposition groups like La Nupes (the leftist coalition) and Rassemblement National (the far-right party led by Marine Le Pen) consolidated large blocs in parliament, enough to make the next five years very complicated for Emmanuel Macron.

Here are the maps you need to visualise what happened in France’s parliamentary elections.

The big picture

This map shows an overall picture of which parties won which districts across France.

The president’s centrist coalition, Ensemble (in yellow), has a lot of the country’s west coast of the country to thank for its victories, with regions like Brittany, Pays de la Loire, and Nouvelle Aquitaine providing support for the president’s party. 

Elsewhere the picture is more fragmented with leftist alliance Nupes (in red), far-right Rassemblement National (dark blue) and centre-right Les Républicains (light blue) all picking up seats around the country, although the far right did well all along the Mediterranean coast. 

Macron misery

Nevertheless, the picture for the sitting president is considerably less cheery than it was in 2017.

Though the president’s centrist coalition will still be the largest group in parliament, it has lost 105 deputés (MPs) in the last five years.

A significant portion left the party or resigned from their positions in the early days of Macron’s first term, while a large chunk lost their seats to candidates from the Rassemblement Nationale and Nupes in Sunday’s election.

Health minister Brigitte Bourguignon, maritime minister Justine Benin and environment minister Amélie de Montchalin were among the victims in Sunday, as well as party faithful and current president of the National Assembly Richard Ferrand and former interior minister Christophe Castaner. Ex education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer had been knocked out in the first round.

Left alliance

Four leftist parties – the hard left La France Insoumise (LFI), the centre left Parti Socialiste (PS), the Greens (EELV) and the Communists  (PCF) – came together in this election to form a coalition known as La Nupes (Nouvelle Union populaire, écologique et sociale) and together they won 133 seats, making it the second largest group in the parliament.

In the previous government, the four parties of the left only occupied 60 seats between them, so this represents a significant gain when compared to 2017.

But this doesn’t represent a particular shift to the left – the percentage of people voting for La Nupes in the first round in 2022 was 25.78 percent – only a fraction higher (25.38 percent) than the combined result of the four parties of La Nupes in 2017. However, by forming the pre-election pact the leftist parties agreed not to stand candidates against each other, and therefore turned their vote share into a larger number of seats in parliament. 

This map shows which factions within the leftist coalition won parliamentary seats, and where they were successful. It remains to be seen how well the coalition will be maintained in the coming months, as the parties hold differing perspectives on key issues.

The rise of the far-right

Shocking pollsters and election experts alike, France’s far-right party, Le Rassemblement Nationale (RN), won 89 seats in parliament.

Previously, the party only won eight in 2017. It represents a historic record for the far-right in France, and an encroaching change for France’s traditional political geography, where the south of the country once represented a stronghold for the left.

The RN is now the largest single-party opposition bloc in France’s parliament.

The real winner: abstention

Over half of French people – about 54.77 percent – did not participate in the second round of the parliamentary elections.

Early analysis shows that age and household income played a role in who voted and who did not: only 29 percent of 18-24 year olds and 36 percent of people living in a household with a total income of less than €1,200 per month went to the polls. 

And finally . . . Zemmour

The below map shows the total number of seats gained by extreme right TV pundit-turned politician Eric Zemmour – a big, fat zero.

Zemmour’s Reconquête and his party did not gain a single seat and all its candidates – including Zemmour himself – were knocked out in the first round.

His total vote share was just four percent, falling from seven percent in the presidential elections in April.

Member comments

  1. Plurialism (le pluralisme) is absolutely essential for a prosperous, thriving democracy.

    Pluralism propels the principle that diversity is beneficial to society and that political power should be enjoyed by disparate functional or cultural groups within a society, including religious groups, trade unions, professional organizations, and ethnic minorities.

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READER QUESTIONS

Reader question: Why does secular France have Catholic holidays?

You might not have thought about it too much as you enjoyed an extra day off work, but it is perhaps unexpected that France - proudly secular since 1905 - has so many public holidays based around Catholic festivals.

Reader question: Why does secular France have Catholic holidays?

Reader question: Why does France have Catholic holidays like Ascension, Assumption and Toussaints? I thought it was supposed to be a secular republic?

The French Republic is very proud of its secular principles but yet as some readers observed, many public holidays are linked to Catholic celebrations, a reminder of its religious history.

Roughly half of the public holidays in France represent Catholic events: Easter, Ascension (May 26th), Assumption (August 15th), Pentecost (for some people), All Saints’ day (November 1st) and of course Christmas.

If you live in Alsace-Moselle (formerly Alsace-Lorraine) you get two extra holidays, both religious ones – Good Friday (the Friday before Easter) and St Stephen’s Day (December 26th) – more on why that is later.

France’s secular stance takes its roots in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 but was formally codified into law in 1905. 

France does not recognise, pay or subsidise any religion. So French local and national governments are not allowed to finance churches, mosques, synagogues or temples, and religious symbolism is not allowed in State buildings or for representatives of the State.

It is these rules that mean that, for example, French primary schools don’t perform nativity plays at Christmas and French female police officers are not permitted to wear the Muslim headscarf while on duty.

EXPLAINED What does France’s secularism really mean?

The flip side of this is that freedom of worship is also protected in the 1905 law, and everyone is allowed to practice whatever religion they choose in their private life.

The only exception to the secular rules are the three departments of Alsace-Moselle. When the 1905 law was passed the region was part of Germany and only became French again at the end of World War I. As part of the compromise agreed, today bishops, priests, rabbis and pastors have the status of civil servants and the state pays for the maintenance of religious buildings. Religious education in public schools is also preserved.

So all that seems to pretty strongly suggest that Catholic festivals should play no part in France’s holiday calendar and only the secular events – such as the Fête nationale on July 14th or VE Day on May 8th – should remain.

However, by the time secularism was formally codified into law in 1905 there was already a fairly fixed calendar of holidays and festivals – although this had already been slimmed down under the Napoleonic government in 1802 – and suddenly axing popular festivals was likely to go down pretty badly with the population at large.

Essentially then, this was a pragmatic compromise between tradition and secularism and over the years politicians have been understandably reluctant to tell the French they must lose their holidays.

But it’s noticeable that all the religious festivals in the calendar are Christian ones, and while this may reflect France’s history it’s not so representative of the current demographics, where an estimated 10 percent of the population either practice the Muslim faith or have a Muslim family background.

So could we see a scenario when we knock Ascension on the head but make Eid a public holiday?

It’s theoretically possible – in 2015 the French parliament voted through an amendment that would allow the départments of France’s Overseas Territories (Martinique, Gaudeloupe, Mayotte, Réunion and French Guiana) to switch a Catholic bank holiday for another religious celebration to suit different faiths in the local population.

However none of the overseas départements has yet made that move. 

A fresh amendment would be required to make the same move in mainland France, and there appears to be little political appetite for that at present.

What are France’s public holidays? 

  • January 1st: New Year’s Day
  • Good Friday (the Friday before Easter Monday, only a holiday in Alsace-Lorraine)
  • Easter Monday (movable date)
  • May 1st: May Day
  • May 8th: VE Day
  • May 26th: Ascension Day
  • Pentecost (movable date and no longer an official holiday)
  • July 14th – Bastille Day
  • August 15th – Assumption
  • November 1st – All Saints
  • November 11th – Armistice Day
  • December 25th – Christmas
  • December 26th – St Stephen’s Day (only a holiday in Alsace-Lorraine)
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