SOME say it’s a bold decision and fully respects the French constitution when deadlock prevents the government from fully functioning. Others say it represents a massive political gamble that President Emmanuel Macron could well regret if it puts his credibility and authority on the line for the three years that remain of his second term.

Though all eyes here are understandably on July 4 and the UK’s General Election, France’s own parliamentary contest which is a two-round vote on June 30 and July 7 is going to be a real humdinger.

Macron’s decision, which he himself described as “grave, heavy”, comes of course after his Renaissance party took a thumping from Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally (RN) party in European Parliament elections on June 9.

RN won 31.4% of the European Parliament vote while the Renaissance party coalition had only 14.6%.

To say that the result caused jitters in Brussels would be an understatement and it immediately sent the Euro down and French stocks and government bonds tumbling.

It’s not as if anyone expects the RN to fair badly in the coming French ballot either, far from it in fact. If last Monday’s opinion poll – the first published since Macron’s shock announcement – is anything to go by, then RN is forecast to win the election but fall short of an absolute majority.

Even if RN does score a majority, Macron would still remain president for three more years and be in charge of defence and foreign policy.

That said, he would lose control over the domestic agenda, including economic policy, immigration and finances, which would in turn have a knock-on effect on some aspects of foreign policy, most significantly Ukraine, as Macron would need parliament’s backing to finance any support as part of France’s budget.

For that reason alone, just like Brussels, Kyiv too will look on at the forthcoming election nervously.

French president Emmanuel Macron is looking to prevent a far-right surge

Faced with a RN majority Macron would have to confront a power sharing government known as “cohabitation”. He might then be saddled with an RN prime minister in the shape of Le Pen or Jordan Bardella, her 28-year-old lieutenant who she plucked from relative obscurity as a young party activist to mould him into the powerful political campaigner that he now is.

Bardella is an astute operator, playing heavily on his family’s Italian roots and how his single mother struggled to bring him up in the poor immigrant suburb of Saint-Denis, north of Paris. All this Bardella manipulates to his political advantage despite the glaringly incongruous fact that the RN are staunchly anti-immigration.

Should all this come to pass and a “cohabitation” become the political order of the day then this in turn would usher in a period of instability only six weeks before Paris becomes the centre of international attention when it hosts the Olympic Games.

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So just what lies behind Macron’s risky roll of the dice on his political future? For it would be remiss to underestimate the gravity of his decision not least given that his power has been diminished ever since he lost his absolute majority in parliament two years ago.

In short, it would seem Macron is hoping to achieve two things. The first is that he hopes to force the French people to think about what is at stake, should the RN win a relative or absolute majority.

By taking everyone by surprise, Macron has calculated that there’s just a chance he could win back a majority. He knows full well that while the European Parliament election delivered a decisive victory for the RN, the same cannot be said of the French legislative election which is unlikely to deliver such a clear win.

The devil is in the detail here, for French parliamentary elections do not use the same electoral system as the European elections. For example in order to win a seat as a deputy you have to win 50% in the first round or, if not, face a run-off. In other words, it’s much harder for a far right candidate to win a seat in the French national parliament.

There have been concerns in Brussels about the rise of the far right in France

The bottom line here is that for many French voters, Brussels is very much viewed as a secondary concern, it’s where they vent their frustration or send warning shots across the bows of their own politicians.

By contrast, the upcoming legislative elections being a two-round vote, historically favour more traditional parties with voters from various sides of the political spectrum often rallying around more mainstream parties to beat the far right.

In one sense then Macron is hoping to call the bluff of sections of the French electorate and is working on the assumption that those who cast a protest ballot at the European Parliament elections will now pivot when confronted with the possibility of Len Pen’s star student Bardella becoming prime minister next month.

The second part of Macron’s calculus is perhaps based on knowing that at some point he was likely to face a forceful political demand for fresh parliamentary elections and by dissolving parliament now he is at least in control of the timing.

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His surprise calling of the election could also have the added effect of knocking Le Pen off her stride as she eyes the bigger prize of the French presidency in 2027. That very thought of Le Pen in the Élysée certainly gives many in Brussels the heebie-jeebies.

But whatever Macron’s tactical or strategic motives for choosing to move right now, it’s impossible not to see it as an enormous gamble. Though it was philosophy not history that Macron studied while a student at Paris Nanterre University, the lessons of his country’s past are far from lost on him.

He will doubtless then recall that it was back in 1997 that Jacques Chirac, then president, dissolved parliament in the hope of shoring up his majority, which had been weakened by widespread strikes and protests two years previously.

Instead, the opposition Socialists swept into power, and Chirac himself was forced into an uncomfortable “cohabitation” for five years.

Known for a self-confidence that verges on arrogance, Macron will be hoping that he doesn’t fall foul of the same fate as Chirac.

As I said before, given that so much is at stake, it’s going to be a humdinger of an election and well worth keeping any eye on over and above our own.