National lists confirmed in France for 2019 elections

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe signed off on the switch from regional voting to a national system. [VanderWolf Images / Shutterstock]

A draft law will soon modify France’s electoral law to enable a switch from a regional to a national system, as well as laying the groundwork for the adoption of transnational lists, although the actual rollout is still unlikely for the time being. EURACTIV France reports.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has signed off on the change in the voting system for the 2019 European elections, alerting several parties to the switch on Wednesday morning (29 November), including the leader of the Union of Democrats and Independents (UDI), Jean-Christoph Lagarde.

The stage is now set for a national constituency rather than regional ones, after President Emmanuel Macron consulted with all the political parties two weeks ago. Aside from the right, most of the parties were in favour of a return to a national ballot.

But European Movement France recently defended regional lists in an opinion-piece published on EURACTIV.fr, arguing that MEPs can be more effective on a local level.

“It would be paradoxical to pretend to engage in building a new Europe based on the practices of the ‘Old World’,” insisted Yves Bertoncini and Olivier Mousson.

Lagarde insisted that in order for France to revert to a single national constituency the law would have to maintain the existing 5% vote threshold and the proviso that campaign costs are reimbursed to parties that garner 3% of the vote.

Some MEPs ready to pick the fight for pan-EU lists

In a somewhat heated debate on Monday (11 September), the European Parliament constitutional affairs committee inched forward the creation of transnational parliamentary lists, seizing the opportunity provided by Brexit.

Transnational lists: possible but unlikely

Another innovation of the future bill is the chance of setting up transnational lists at European level, something Macron has voiced his support for before.

But the idea has little chance of gaining traction at the moment, as it would require support from all 27 member states (once the UK has left the EU). Few have shown much enthusiasm for backing the French president.

Rejigging the elections will favour parties that count less on a local support base, like République En Marche!, as well as those centred around one leading figure, like the extreme left and right, led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Marine Le Pen.

However, the latter has indicated that she will not run again and that the 2019 campaign will be a face-off between “the Europeans and the pro-Europeans”.

Young French voters seduced by extreme candidates despite EU stance

Young people are losing their trust in politics. While they tend to be overwhelmingly pro-European, many are seduced by the discourse of the extreme right or left of French politics. EURACTIV France reports.