Presidential elections will take place in France in April 2022. However, the results of the provincial and regional parliamentary elections, held yesterday in France served as a rehearsal for next year’s general election. What the results show is Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, the two finalists in the previous presidential election, may not be on the front page next time. Le Pen and Macron saw their hopes dashed at the regional level. Now the headlines in the French press are asking: Will the Macron-Le Pen duel continue?

On the one hand, the results of these elections are very important for the parties that will later enter the presidential race. On the other hand, these results do not herald anything, and above all, they do not make it possible to predict the next presidential election in advance. According to the indications, although Macron’s and Le Pen's parties are in a sharp decline, for some experts, this uncertain situation may still play a role in the Right's favor since these two simultaneous votes are just a snapshot of the present time, after that it is more blurry. From this point of view, there is a belief that in less than a year the current equation may be radically different in the country.


All analyzes made in the past months on the "inevitable Macron-Le Pen duel" envisioned for the 2022 elections have almost fallen into disrepair. It is interpreted that the voters are punishing Macron because his political party, ‘La République en marche' (LREM), faced a more dire result than anticipated. The National Front led by Le Pen, which hoped to show that it was on the way to power, failed to achieve the expected success in the local elections. In the voting in which local councilors in 13 regions of France were elected, the centre-right Republicans received 27.2 percent of the national vote in the first round on June 20, while Le Pen's party (Rassemblement National/RN) took the second place with 19.3 percent of the vote. Macron's Party, on the other hand, was behind the Greens and Socialists with 11.2 percent of the vote. In the second round on 27 June, candidates for the centre-right, which won 7 out of 13 regions, and left, which achieved success in 5 regions, won the elections. Thus, the country's strongest political force has been the alliance of the Republicans and the centre, which received 38 percent of the vote. The alliance of the left and the Greens, which received 34.5 percent of the votes, succeeded in becoming the second power throughout the country. Macron's ineffectiveness was reflected in the ballot box. The far right did not succeed in any region. Thus, the biggest loser of the election has been the far-right alongside Macron. In this election, it seems that voters are replacing Macron with Xavier Bertrand, the candidate of the Centre-Right Republicans, as his most important opponent. At the end of the election, Bertrand's words were a harbinger of innovation in France: “There is a prerequisite for getting our country back on track, restoring order. Insecurity undermines the republic, deconstructs it. For this, let's turn the page and let the French breathe, the land breathe. Let's build a new social project together to live better everywhere. This is the territory of the republic.”


These elections are almost like a rehearsal for the elections to be held in France next year. However, what should not be forgotten is the voter turnout in local elections. It was not overlooked that the interest of the voters in the local elections was quite low at the ballot box. While the turnout rate remained at 30 percent in the first round, 66 percent of the electorate did not vote in the second round. That is, at least two of every three French voters abstained. While Macron described this situation as a "slap on democracy", Le Pen attributed the failure of her own party to the low number of voters and urged everyone to vote. It is certain that this rate will not be the same in the presidential elections, but what do the polls say? Indeed, like the results of these local elections, does the internal equation change in the presidential elections? The ballot box truth is more important than any poll. But still, the polls say: Macron's party is utterly defeated and weakened. Marine Le Pen's party, on the other hand, is in much worse shape. Whereas Macron and Le Pen relied on this ballot to dynamite the right. In this case, a situation arises where they need each other critically. As a matter of fact, these local elections showed that the far right in France has been largely repelled as of now. But has the far right really been stopped in France? Old parties that still exist but are quite worn out, Greens who have not yet completely changed their status, a retreating but possibly disguised far-right vote, a president on the way to losing a large political base whose re-election can only rely on his own power in the current circumstances… In such an atmosphere, the outcome of 2022 remains highly uncertain.


Although the left seems to have strengthened its hand in these elections, the left in France is much lower than expected. French experts say "themes historically brought to the fore by the right or the extreme right" for the issues of "security" and "migration", which have been at the center of the agenda that has dominated many news stories in recent weeks. As this political current faces an increasingly sensitive electorate on the right, the current political situation in France is evolving in favor of the right, as these issues do not seem to be resolved on the left. However, the percentage of voters who still care about social and ecological issues does not go unnoticed. Yet, according to experts, the left will continue to lag behind in the eyes of the French electorate unless it comes out of this security milestone by talking more about social issues.


It is certain that Macron, who is on the way to losing, will use the cards in front of him to win again. One of these cards was Macron's rhetoric about his efforts to create a "French Islam" under the umbrella of Islamic reform, who was afraid of losing power in the face of Marine Le Pen, who displayed an Islamophobic stance. This extends directly to the relations between France and Turkey. If we recall, this situation had caused a re-opening between the two leaders. Hence, it seems that Macron can continue this rhetoric to strengthen his hand. In this case, the improvement process of relations between the two countries may be interrupted again. However, it is possible to foresee that Turkey will act more prudently this time in the context of NATO calculations. As a matter of fact, at the point reached so far, it has been seen that the tension between Macron and Erdogan has developed in a political dimension rather than an ideological one. That is, they both gained points from their inner soles by feeding off this tension. However, they maintained this tension moderately, fearing to endanger the interests of the country. It is difficult to predict the next leader's attitude towards Turkey after Macron. However, it is also remembered that Bertrand, the candidate of the Centre-Right Republicans, who is now leading the race, condemned Turkey harshly because of the protocol crisis applied to Ursula von der Leyen in Ankara.