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As RFI claims & explains:

After Sunday's first round of voting, as many as 306 of the 577 seats in France's National Assembly could be decided in three-way races.

In the last parliamentary elections two years ago, it was just eight.

While it's always been possible for more than two candidates to qualify for the second round, falling voter turnout has made that outcome less and less likely.

Under France's election rules, unless one candidate wins the first round by a landslide – by getting more than 50 percent of ballots cast, which have to add up to at least 25 percent of the total number of voters – the two highest-placing candidates go through to a runoff.

But candidates who come third or lower also qualify if they win the votes of at least 12.5 percent of the electorate.

That's hard to do if not many voters take part. The last three parliamentary elections have seen turnout of roughly 48 percent (2022), 49 percent (2017) and 57 percent (2012) in the first round, which effectively meant parties had to win a higher share of ballots cast to get across the threshold.

On Sunday, turnout reached almost 67 percent – its highest since 1997.

That year's [1997's] elections were also called early, and likewise resulted in an unusually high number of three-way races in the second round: 79.

So, 79 3-way races (in 1997), never mind just 8 in the previous election, vs "as many as 306" this year seems a big difference. How reliable is that 306 though? If it's not final, is there a lower bound for it, this year, i.e. if that's to be read "as many as 306, but as few as XX" could be 3-way races in the 2nd round, what's XX there? And, when will we known the final figure for the number of 3-way races in the 2nd round, for this year's election?

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  • Not sure I see the point of your question. Do you mean mathematically? If not, you have to consider all the reasons for a candidate to withdraw or remain, and there are potentially as many as consistuencies. Commented Jul 3 at 9:48

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Here one can find the full list of the 501 districts where the elections will be decided in the second tour (i.e., where none of the candidates has won 50+% of the vote.) The candidates in may withdraw from the race till 6pm Tuesday (Paris time), and according to LeMonde, at least 190 candidates have already done so (they are already crossed in the earlier list): enter image description here
These include 64 candidates of Ensemble (the presidential coalition) and 120 of Nouveau Front Populaire (an alliance of several left and extreme left parties).

Theoretically, it is possible to reduce the number of three-way races to zero - there is a lot of talk about Barrage républicain or Front républicain, i.e., all the political forces uniting in order to stop the extreme right. However, in practice the decisions to withdraw are made on a case-by-case basis - mostly due to members of quasi-Communist La France Insoumise divided over whether they hate Macron more than the extreme right, and the centrist politicians doubting whether there is truly a difference between the extreme right and extreme left:

Législatives : «Nous ne voterons ni pour un candidat du RN ni de LFI» au second tour, indique François Bayrou

Legislative: “We will not vote for a candidate from the RN or LFI” in the second round, indicates François Bayrou

This position of François Bayrou (long-term centrist politician - leader of Le Movement Démocrate, ideologically closest to Macron) is shared by such prominent centrist politicians as Edouard Philippe (the first and longest serving prime minister under Macron) and Bruno Le Maire (the minister of economy.)

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    Calling La France Insoumise "quasi-Communist" is editorialising. LFI isn't Communist. All the leaders of LFI have also called for their candidates to withdraw, and their electors to transfer their vote to the remaining non-RN candidate. I also would note that the portrayal of LFI as far-left isn't factual, although it is called as such by a number of opponents (including Macron himself). Commented Jul 2 at 8:03
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    @AmiralPatate personally, I use term commo-fasicism or rouge-brun to describe them, so quasi-Communist was indeed editorializing, but not in the sense you think.
    – Morisco
    Commented Jul 2 at 8:08
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    @Morisco This is again not factual. It doesn't help the answer either. You can say decisions are made on a case-by-case basis by Ensemble candidates based on how much they consider LFI to be far-left (which again, it isn't), but the NFP, including LFI, has very clearly called for unconditional withdrawal within the first hour after the results. Commented Jul 2 at 8:38
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    You can personally call them whatever you want, but the French terms commo-fasicism or rouge-brun are even more derogatory then the quasi-communist you used in English. So actually, your explanation made it worse. Calling the LFI quasi-communist is not an objective description, it is a value judgement on the party.
    – quarague
    Commented Jul 2 at 13:06
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    Once again, you can call LFI as you want, I'm not talking about this. I'm talking about your sentence: "in practice the decisions to withdraw are made on a case-by-case basis - mostly due to members of […] La France Insoumise […]". That's plain wrong.
    – Blackhole
    Commented Jul 2 at 17:11
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I think this is a partial answer to my Q:

The high turnout on Sunday means some 300 constituencies are now facing potential three-way run-offs which, in theory, favour the RN.

To prevent these three-way run-offs and block the RN, France’s centre-right and centre-left politicians have long practiced what they call a “republican front”, whereby the third-placed candidate drops out of the race and urges voters to rally behind the second-placed candidate.

All candidates through to the run-off have until Tuesday evening to decide whether to stand down or run in the second round.

So, apparently one relevant deadline is Tuesday for candidates to turn a 3-way race into a 2-way one, by dropping out. Thus the number of 3-way races may surely change by then. But it's not a complete answer to what I was asking.


BBC has an update on the number of 3-way races:

With no official list yet released, French media reported that between 214 and 218 third-placed contenders had pulled out of the race in their constituencies. It means there will now be around 108 three-way races, instead of just over 300.

The add that there are two 4-way races left, so that makes the 3+ number 110.

This is lower than what's reported in Morisco's answer, so I assume it's newer data. Whether it's final, IDK.

France24 reports 1 fewer:

there will still be 109 runoffs featuring three or even four candidates, according to an AFP count, as holdouts ignored the mounting pressure to quit the race.

The BBC adds this interesting bit:

Instructions to candidates from Macron’s centrist bloc have been more ambiguous than the NPF’s [=LFI].

Though Macron himself and Prime Minister Gabriel Attal have called for “no vote for the RN”, some in his camp believe its far-left component makes the NPF equally unpalatable.

Senior figures like Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and former prime minister Edouard Philippe – both originally from the centre-right – are refusing to issue instructions to vote systematically against the RN.

And France24 this:

Even after the tactical withdrawal of more than 120 left-wing candidates, the NFP is still contesting about 285 seats – leading some in the alliance to voice hopes of an upset win.

Such hopes are wishful thinking, experts caution, noting that many NFP candidates face uphill battles in the second round.


Final numbers appear to be this:

According to Le Monde, 221 candidates, including 132 from NFP and 83 from Macron’s camp and its allies, had withdrawn from potential three-way runoffs by the Tuesday evening deadline, leaving 94 so-called “triangular” contests.

(The Guardian includes the one remaining 4-way race there in "triangular". TBH, the linked Le Monde piece might have been updated in the meantime because it shows just 89+2=91... towards the end.)

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  • I think typically there are a lot of bargains in the background, and time is clearly a weak spot of the current action, except if it was long planned, but kept in secret.
    – Gray Sheep
    Commented Jul 1 at 16:20
  • Based on that report, as of today (Monday) surely the lower bound is 0, which would occur in the unlikely event all multi-way races have enough candidates stand down to be decided, or to become 2 horse races. Post deadline on Tuesday (sources seem to claim that's 18:00, so possibly the next day) constituencies should publish their candidate lists and the actual number of votes triangulaires should be known
    – origimbo
    Commented Jul 1 at 16:39
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    @origimbo: actually not 0 because on a closer reading only LFI candidates will unconditionally drop out if they're 3rd. Macron's party candidates will drop out if they're 3rd, excluding those cases when they're 3rd behind RN & LFI. Which I suspect is a lot of places, but I don't know exactly. Commented Jul 1 at 16:53
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    The wikipedia article (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2024_French_legislative_election) has a graphic which NFP candidates belong to which party, I didn't count but somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of the NFP candidates seem to be from LFI.
    – quarague
    Commented Jul 2 at 6:51
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    You may update your answer with the final numbers: 94 three-way runoffs and 1 four-way runoff remain (withdrawals of 132 NFP and allies, 83 Ensemble and allies, and 6 other candidates).
    – Gwen
    Commented Jul 3 at 12:03
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Exact number : 89

76 out of 577 deputies have already been elected in the first round, so a total of 501 run-offs will be held on Sunday, July 7.

The registration for the second round of qualified candidates closed Tuesday, July 2 at 6pm Paris time. We can now have a clear view of the second round, where there will be 409 duels (2-way races), 89 triangulaires (3-way races) and 2 quadrangulaires (4-way races). (1)

Sur les 306 triangulaires possibles au second tour, seules 89 auront effectivement lieu

Out of 306 possible 3-way races on the second round, only 89 will actually happen

Withdrawals of candidates arrived in second, third or fourth position have indeed been massive. If every qualified candidate had stayed in the race, we would have had 306 triangulaires and 5 quadrangulaires. The logic of most withdrawals from Nouveau Front Populaire (left) and Ensemble! (center-right) is to avoid the election of deputies from the extreme-right Rassemblement National.

224 candidates et candidats ont renoncé à se présenter, dans la majorité des cas pour « faire barrage au Rassemblement national ».

224 candidates have renounced registering, in most cases to « block the National Rally ».

(1) You may notice that 89 + 409 + 2 = 500, not 501. The last election is in French Guyana's 2d circonscription where only one candidate remains on the ballot.

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