The first results of today’s (Sunday, June 19) second round of legislative elections in France are expected tonight at 20:00.
Voter turn-out at midday was at 18.99%, slightly higher than in the first round which ultimately saw a record low turn-out (just 47.5%). Around 48 million voters are registered to cast a ballot to elect an MP across the country.
During the first round last Sunday (June 12), the left-wing Nupes coalition of parties affiliated to La France Insoumise’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon came out virtually neck and neck with President Emmanuel Macron’s Ensemble coalition. Ensemble had a slight advantage, according to the Ministry of Interior although others have challenged this, saying the official results did not count some MPs in the overseas territories in the calculations. Either way it was very close.
Candidates are standing for election to the 577 available seats in France’s Assemblée nationale. Elections have already taken place for 27 seats covering French people living abroad and in the overseas territories. Candidates linked to the Nupes coalition were on the whole preferred.
Today’s vote will be decisive for President Macron's second-term following his re-election in April, with the 44-year-old relying on a majority to be able to push through promised work reforms as well as tax cuts and plans to raise the retirement age amongst other proposals.
Here are some of the key themes of the two leading coalitions of Ensemble and Nupes.
The Macronist candidates want to increase the minimum full rate French pension to €1,100 per month and to index pensions to inflation. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has already announced that from July onwards pensions will be raised by 4%.
Read more: 17 million pensioners in France to see basic pensions boosted by 4%
The coalition is equally holding out for the retirement age to be raised from 62 to 65.
They want to restore the right to retire at 60 and are in favour of raising all pensions to "at least the level of the [working] minimum wage." for a full career. This is currently €1,302.64/ month net.
Inflation and spending power
Several proposals have already been formulated and promised by the current government including maintaining the freeze on energy prices until [at least] the end of the year and continuing the 18 cent discount on fuel until the end of August.
The more modest income households will also benefit from an inflation aid, expected to be between €50 and €150 in September.
Read more: Spending power in France: general inflation aid to replace food cheque
Presidential backers are also in favour of a €15billion tax cut, divided equally between households and companies.
Nupes wants to establish a monthly amount which “guarantees dignity” and “leaves no individual below the poverty line”.
This would be €1,063 per month for a single person. Nupes candidates also want to “immediately freeze the prices of basic necessities (petrol/fuel, food and energy)".
To finance these measures, it is counting partly on the restoration of the wealth tax (l’impôt sur la fortune, ISF) - a former tax on general wealth as opposed to solely property wealth as now.
For the Macronists, more télémédicine is needed to help solve the lack of GPs and medical staff, especially in rural areas. Essentially, one way to combat "against social and territorial inequalities in health" would be to favour remote services and the digital exchange of information between medical personnel.
Prescriptions (ordonnances) would be given out online.
Read more: French ‘medical deserts’: Mayor’s plea over lack of rural GPs
In order to counter hospital staff shortages, the health minister has already announced that student nurses will be allowed to begin work before they get their diplomas and will receive double-time pay for extra hours.
Candidates are also in favour of the 100% reimbursement of the treatment of severe forms of hypertension, l'hypertension artérielle (HTA). Until 2011, this long-term illness was fully reimbursed by the state, however since then it has been to a maximum of 70%.
The movement led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon promises a "100% Sécu" with the objective of the full reimbursement of all prescribed healthcare.
To combat the shortage of hospital staff, the coalition proposes to recruit 100,000 care workers.
They also want to "make mental health a major cause of the five-year term". For that, they commit to reinforcing "the means of the existing medical-psychological centres and the structures dedicated to mental handicaps".
They want to recruit more officers and other staff, to double the number of police reservists by 2027. In addition, 7,500 police officers, 2,500 gendarmes and 8,500 magistrates and judicial personnel should also be recruited.
Ensemble also propose the creation of "Republican Action Forces" (forces d’action républicaine). These new members of the police force will be assigned to neighbourhoods "in situations of insecurity".
For the left-wing candidates, reinforced police training is as important as recruitment and they wish to increase the initial training of officers to two years, to revise its content and "strengthen the compulsory continuous training of police officers"
It proposes to invest in local police officers, double the number of technical and scientific officers and to strengthen the resources of the judicial police.
Environmental and ecology
President Macron says his number one goal is to make France "the first major nation to move away from dependence on gas, carbon and coal". The EU’s objective is to be carbon neutral by 2050.
One of the ways planned is to invest in nuclear power which does not emit greenhouse gases.
Six new nuclear reactors are expected to be built by the end of the president’s mandate in 2027. Furthermore, a massive investment is set to be deployed to strengthen the solar park and build 50 offshore wind farms.
The main objective of the left-wing coalition is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65% in 2030.
In order to achieve this, a large part of their policy is devoted to transport.
They suggest lowering the rate of VAT on public transport, abolishing internal airline journeys where a short suitable train journey is available and introducing a universal ticket for young people which would allow them to have access to all trains, public transport as well as bicycles and self-service cars in France.
They also plan to transition to 100% renewable energy.