Macron's high-stakes election gamble in France

Will Marine Le Pen's far-right party take power?

Illustration of Emmanuel Macron, Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella alongside playing cards with king, queen and jack faces
The first round of elections takes place on June 30
(Image credit: Illustration by Stephen Kelly / Getty Images)

A moment of reckoning in France: President Emmanuel Macron dissolved his country's parliament and called for snap elections after French far-right groups made significant gains in the European Union elections, said the BBC. "I have heard your message," the president told French voters, "and I will not let it go without a response." Macron's "dramatic and surprise decision" to call the election could open the way for Marine Le Pen's anti-migrant National Rally party to take power — and to make Le Pen herself France's new prime minister.

The elections are a "huge gamble," said The New York Times. "It is a huge risk from an impetuous man who prefers taking the initiative to being subjected to events," said one observer. Macron is asking his country's voters what they meant by their pro-right EU votes: "Were the French letting off steam, or did they really mean it?" They might mean it, Politico said. "At no point in history has the National Rally appeared closer to power." With hard-right parties making gains across Europe, "yesterday's truths are no longer guaranteed in today's new political reality."

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Joel Mathis, The Week US

Joel Mathis is a freelance writer who has spent nine years as a syndicated columnist, co-writing the RedBlueAmerica column as the liberal half of a point-counterpoint duo. His work also regularly appears in National Geographic, The Kansas City Star and Heatmap News. His awards include best online commentary at the Online News Association and (twice) at the City and Regional Magazine Association.