News Digest: Heatwaves, Narrow Election Results & a First for Offshore Wind in France

News Digest: Heatwaves, Narrow Election Results & a First for Offshore Wind in France

Sunday’s parliamentary elections saw record low turnout and a narrow victory for Macron’s coalition, while France is braced for a heatwave which will see temperatures soar this week and the first ever offshore wind turbines generate power for the grid.

1. Heatwaves hit the country

High temperatures are expected across much of the country from Thursday, as Meteo France warns of a heatwave which will see parts of the south-west experiencing highs of 39C. Paris might well see temperatures as high as 35C on Thursday, and temperatures are anticipated to remain high during the night.

This comes as Spain is gripped by its hottest pre-summer heatwave for at least 20 years, with temperatures soaring to as high as 44C.

Fears of drought are exacerbated by these unusually high temperatures which follow a particularly dry and hot spring, and as of today 35 departments have imposed water restrictions. Warnings of forest fire risk have also been issued, with authorities in Hérault, Occitanie presenting a guide on how to reduce the risks of fire in arid conditions.


2. Narrow margins in the first round of parliamentary elections

Sunday saw the first round of parliamentary elections, and a new record low for electoral participation was set – with over half (52%) of registered voters not participating. In total 6,293 candidates are competing for 577 seats as President Emmanuel Macron hopes for his coalition to achieve a majority.

The results revealed a narrow victory for the presidential coalition ‘Ensemble!’, with a 21,000 vote lead against the NUPES alliance which consists of the four largest left-wing parties and is led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Macron’s ‘Ensemble!’ failed to achieve an absolute majority in the first round, with 25.75% of the vote in comparison to NUPES’ 25.66%, and Le Pen’s National Rally which claimed 18.68% of the vote.

The second round will see voters return to the polls this Sunday, and as Macron’s coalition appears far weaker than in 2017, it promises to be a difficult final round for the President as he hopes to secure a majority. If his coalition ‘Ensemble!’ comes out on top in the second round, but does not claim the required 289 seats, he will have a relative majority in the National Assembly and might then need to seek the support of another political party and negotiate an alliance to have absolute majority. If defeated in the second round, a cohabitation would be imposed and the subsequent appointment of a new Prime Minister, in this case the leader of the opposition, Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

Some of the notable successes and losses in the parliamentary election were Marine Le Pen’s majority in Pas-de-Calais (53.94%) and former far-right presidential candidate Éric Zemmour’s elimination in Var after coming third, winning 23.19% of the vote. Despite Le Pen’s success she will not be joining the five individuals that won their seats outright in the first round (four for NUPES, and one for Ensemble!) due to low turnout – to skip the second round of voting candidates need the support of at least a quarter of the registered voters in their constituency.

The second round this Sunday will determine the allocation of seats in the National Assembly, and as Macron hopes to retain his absolute majority despite the short margin of the first round, NUPES are hoping to force the presidential coalition into cohabitation.

3. France produces offshore wind power for the first time

The first commercial-scale wind farm installed in French waters has generated electricity, with the electricity grid receiving its first ever power generated by an offshore wind farm. The Saint-Nazaire offshore park will eventually have 80 wind turbines, hopefully producing 480MW which is equivalent to the annual consumption of 700,000 people. It is said that each turbine is able to power the equivalent of 5,000 homes. To date, 27 turbines have been installed and the rest are expected to be in place by the end of the year.

As President Macron announced his visions for France’s carbon neutrality by 2050, his strategy included expansion of renewable energy sources, with plans for 50 offshore wind farms by 2050. It is hoped that this will create many jobs and encourage economic growth.

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