French President Emmanuel Macron has taken a bold political gamble, dissolving the National Assembly and calling for snap legislative elections after a significant defeat in the European Parliament elections. The far-right National Rally party, led by Jordan Bardella, secured nearly 40% of the vote, a result that prompted Bardella to call on Macron to dissolve the national parliament.

In response, Macron announced an unexpected national election set for the end of June, positioning his pro-European, centrist, and pro-Ukrainian ideals against the anti-immigration, populist, and law-and-order rhetoric of the far right. "The extreme right is both the impoverishment of the French and the downgrading of our country. So, at the end of this day, I cannot act as if nothing had happened," Macron declared in a televised address.

Macron's decision sets the stage for a fierce political showdown, as he attempts to rally support from both the right and left to thwart the far-right's ascent. The first round of voting will occur in 20 days, leaving a narrow window to form a coalition from France's centrist and left-wing parties. However, there is little enthusiasm among leftist parties to unite with Macron, who has faced significant backlash over his pro-business policies and handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Historically, the dissolution of the National Assembly has been a high-risk move. The last instance in 1997 saw then-President Jacques Chirac lose his majority, leading to a left-wing government. Macron's party has indicated a willingness to withhold candidates in certain districts to support potential allies, according to French Foreign Minister Stephane Séjourné.

However, the far-left party France Unbowed (LFI) quickly dismissed the idea of a coalition. LFI leader Manon Aubry emphasized that the country wants to move past the Macron era, but not with the far-right National Rally. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a prominent figure in LFI, also expressed skepticism about forming alliances, especially within the short timeframe.

Macron's current position is markedly different from his 2017 landslide victory over far-right leader Marine Le Pen. His tenure has been marred by the "yellow vest" protests, stringent COVID-19 measures, and unpopular pension reforms. Without an absolute majority in parliament since the 2022 elections, Macron has relied on Article 49.3 of the constitution to pass legislation without a parliamentary vote, further fueling public discontent.

The upcoming election is not solely a two-horse race between Macron and the far-right. The National Rally, with its strong anti-immigration stance, holds 88 seats in the National Assembly, compared to Macron's bloc's 250 seats. The far-right will need to broaden its policy spectrum to challenge Macron's economic record, which has shielded France from severe inflation compared to other European nations.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire acknowledged the responsibility of Macron's party for the election results and emphasized the upcoming campaign as a direct contest between the National Rally and Macron's agenda. The French foreign minister described the snap election as a "bet of confidence" in the French people, trusting they will reject political extremes.

France's voting system, which involves a second round for the highest-polling candidates if no one wins an absolute majority, could favor Macron. This system encourages voters to band together to oppose far-right candidates, a mechanism that has so far prevented a far-right victory in presidential elections.

Regardless of the election outcome, Macron will remain president until 2027. A victory would enable him to advance his reform agenda, including changes to end-of-life care and the education system. Conversely, a failure to secure a majority could lead to a lame-duck presidency, with Macron forced to navigate a fragmented parliament.

If the far-right replicates its European success on the national stage, Macron may be compelled to appoint a prime minister from its ranks, likely Bardella. This "cohabitation" would see Macron handling international and defense issues while Bardella manages domestic policies, potentially setting the stage for Marine Le Pen's bid in the 2027 presidential election.

As France braces for the June 30 and July 7 votes, the nation's future political landscape hangs in the balance. Macron's bold move could either solidify his reformist legacy or pave the way for the far-right's unprecedented rise to power.