Will Macron keep presidential majority or is cohabitation on the cards?

French legislative election on June 12 and 19 will see voters electing 577 National Assembly members, the 16th of such polls under the Fifth French Republic.

The race is already witnessing a realignment of political entities, shaping up into a two-coalition horse race.

On the one side, you have the centrist Ensemble Citoyens (Citizens United) coalition, which will face off against the left-wing Nouvelle Union Populaire Écologique et Sociale (New People's Ecologic and Social Union, or NUPES).

Ensemble Citoyens comprises 14 national and regional centre to centre-right, left and Green parties, such as President Emmanuel Macron's Renaissance (formerly La République En Marche), Agir, Radical party and En Commun.

NUPES consists of 19 national and regional left, socialists, Green and pro-European parties, such as the French Communist Party, Socialist Party, the Greens, Ecology Generation and the New Democrats.

The election comes on the heels of the April French presidential election, which saw Macron keeping the top post for a second consecutive and final term.

The first round of the presidential polls on April 10 and second round on April 24 saw Macron defeating far-right candidate Marine Le Pen for the second time.

In the 2017 French legislative election, Macron's party and its allies carried the presidential majority by winning 346 seats, with the opposition parties garnering 221 seats.

Macron will preserve his absolute majority in the Lower House of Parliament in the current polls if he secures 300 seats. If Renaissance garners 288 seats, he can govern without his allies' backing.

Online American magazine The Dispatch said the proximity of the two elections is no guarantee that Macron will secure a majority in Parliament this time around.

"Far-left politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon (who came in third behind Macron and Le Pen in the first round of the presidential vote) has secured a broad left-wing alliance between, among others, his own Green Party, the Socialist Party and the French Communist Party.

"This alliance currently polls between 27 and 31 per cent, compared with Macron's centrist coalition, which rakes in between 24 and 28 per cent in the surveys," it said.

The French legislative election is usually seen as secondary to the presidential polls. However, its outcome determines the president's policies and agenda in the European Union founder member nation.

Failure to gain a majority in the national assembly will see the president sharing powers with a rival prime minister and ministers in a situation known as "cohabitation", or divided government.

This leads to the president performing his role as a head of state and the prime minister discharging his responsibility as the head of government and they will have to "coexist" in running the country, said state-owned news network France 24.

"The situation is disadvantageous to the president, who loses decision-making powers over domestic matters as the prime minister's majority in Parliament hews to its own legislative agenda.

"The president has to share prerogatives with the prime minister and cannot compel the latter to resign.

"A president does, however, maintain the power to dissolve Parliament and trigger new legislative elections," it said.

Cohabitation had occurred three times since 1958, including twice under Socialist president François Mitterrand, with conservative prime ministers Jacques Chirac and Édouard Balladur serving from 1986 to 1988 and 1993 to 1995, respectively.

The most recent cohabitation took place in 1997, when Chirac, who was president, dissolved Parliament, hoping to get a stronger majority. The opposite happened, with the Left winning a majority and Socialist Lionel Jospin serving as prime minister until 2002.

The French legislative election is based on a two-round system in single-member constituencies. A candidate receiving an absolute majority, or 25 per cent of the votes, is elected in the first round. If no one passes this threshold, a runoff among candidates receiving 12.5 per cent of the votes will determine the winner.

Opinion polls have predicted a close fight for the legislative seats involving NUPES and Ensemble Citoyens in the first round. If the seats go into the second round of polls, a different picture is being painted, with opinion polls forecasting Macron's coalition being given the edge.

NUPES is hoping to emulate the socialist leaning Popular Front's surprise victory in 1936, while Macron, Renaissance and its allies seek to keep the presidential majority in the Palais Bourbon and prevent a fourth cohabitation government.

Voters on June 12 and 19 will decide on this, as well as France's direction and future, for the next five years.

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