When will we find out the results of the French elections?

The far-right National Rally won a significant 33% of the vote last night, but victory for Marine Le Pen's party is still uncertain.

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 30: Demonstrators gather in Place de la Republique, to protest against the rising right-wing movement after the Rassemblement National's victory in the first round of early general elections in Paris, France on June 30, 2024. (Photo by Luc Auffret/Anadolu via Getty Images)
Demonstrators gather in Place de la Republique to protest against the rise of the far-right National Rally. (Getty Images)

Protesters filled the streets of Paris on Sunday night after the far-right National Rally and allies won 33% of the vote in the first round of France's parliamentary elections.

Marine Le Pen, president of the party's parliamentary group, declared that French president Emmanuel Macron's bloc had been “practically wiped out” and claimed “democracy has spoken”.

France's left-wing bloc won 28% of the vote, while Macron's centrists gained just 20%, official results from the interior ministry showed on Monday.

It means France is moving ever closer to its first far-right government since the Vichy regime of the Second World War, with the nation's divisions laid bare as protesters in the capital opposed to Le Pen set off flares, set bins on fire and smashed windows in anger.

While the National Rally has cause for celebration, the elections are not over yet, with the potential for political manoeuvring and deal-making by Macron in an attempt to keep Le Pen's party out of power.

The second round of voting for France's parliamentary elections will be held on Sunday, 7 July. Voting is due to end at 8pm local time (7pm BST), at which point nationwide projections will be published by pollsters based on a partial vote count.

Historically, these poll results have been fairly reliable, but official results will gradually be announced throughout the evening. France is known for its fast and efficient vote counting, meaning we could potentially see final results by the end of the night.

TOPSHOT - Former president of the French far-right Rassemblement National (RN) parliamentary group Marine Le Pen gives a speech during the results evening of the first round of the parliamentary elections in Henin-Beaumont, northern France, on June 30, 2024. A divided France is voting in high-stakes parliamentary elections that could see the anti-immigrant and eurosceptic party of Marine Le Pen sweep to power in a historic first. The candidates formally ended their frantic campaigns at midnight June 28, with political activity banned until the first round of voting. (Photo by FRANCOIS LO PRESTI / AFP) (Photo by FRANCOIS LO PRESTI/AFP via Getty Images)
Marine Le Pen claimed her party had practically 'wiped out' Emmanuel Macron's centrist bloc. (Getty Images)

France's electoral system is slightly more complex than the UK's system, with voting split into two rounds.

In the first round, any candidates within a constituency who wins over 50% of the vote is automatically elected. If no candidates achieves this, a second ballot is held.

For the French National Assembly elections, candidates who secure more than 12.5% of the votes of registered voters automatically make it through.

With France recording its highest turnout in nearly 40 years, there's a greater chance that more than two candidates per constituency will pass that 12.5% threshold and make it to the next round – a situation known as "triangulaires".

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 30: Tension rises as demonstrators gather in Place de la Republique, to protest against the rising right-wing movement after the Rassemblement National's victory in the first round of early general elections in Paris, France on June 30, 2024. (Photo by Luc Auffret/Anadolu via Getty Images)
Tensions rose as protesters took to the streets of Paris on Sunday night. (Getty Images)

In fact, more than half of all seats saw three candidates qualify for the second round, with a small number of seats producing an even more complex four-way competition, according to The Conversation.

This opens the door to tactical moves by France's political parties. For example, France's left-wing bloc has suggested it will stand-down any third-placed candidates to avoid splitting the vote and to give a boost to anyone standing against the far-right.

France's centrist parties have agreed to support all candidates that share "republican" values, while refusing to give their support to either the far-right or far-left, with Macron warning of "civil war" if either of these camps win.

However, after such bruising first-round results for Macron's coalition, prime minister Gabriel Attal said there was a "moral duty" to prevent National Rally from gaining an absolute majority in the second round – suggesting third placed centrist candidates should be withdrawn, according to Le Monde, although not everyone in the centrist camp agrees.

One alternative to a National Rally-led government is a hung parliament, which could make France difficult to govern for the remainder of Macron's presidency, which is due to run until 2027.

Presidents are chosen in separate elections in France, and Macron has said he will not stand down until his term is over, even if his party loses the parliamentary elections.

While National Rally appears to be on track to win the most seats out of any single party, it could still fail to gain the 289 required for an absolute majority.

French President Emmanuel Macron takes a selfie with supporters after voting in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, northern France, Sunday, June 30, 2024. France is holding the first round of an early parliamentary election that could bring the country's first far-right government since Nazi occupation during World War II. The second round is on July 7, and the outcome of the vote remains highly uncertain (Yara Nardi, Pool via AP)
French president Emmanuel Macron has said he will not stand down, even if his party loses the elections. (Alamy)

Polling from Ipsos France suggests National Rally are on track to win between 230 and 280 seats in the 577-seat lower house after the second round of voting – a significant step up from the 88 held in the previous parliament.

Speaking to CNBC, Sebastian Paris Horvitz, director of research at La Banque Postale Asset Management, said he thought a hung parliament would be the "most likely scenario" and the "least bad" outcome for markets in France.

He added: ″Generally you have a majority to govern France ... After the second round, maybe we are not going to have such a majority. And so we have to figure out how France will be governed.”