France Elections: Projection Shows, Far-Right Leads In Blow To Macron




CNN

Marine Le Pen's far-right National Rally (RN) party took a commanding lead in the first round of France's parliamentary election on Sunday, with early estimates showing it closer to power than ever before. Is.

After an unusually high turnout, the RN bloc leads with 34% of the vote, while the left-wing New Popular Front (NFP) coalition is second with 28.1% and President Emmanuel Macron's coalition with 20.3%. A disappointing third place. Preliminary estimates from Ipsos.

While the RN appears on track to win the most seats in the National Assembly, it could fall short of the 289 seats needed for an absolute majority, suggesting France faces a hung parliament and more political uncertainty. moving towards

Estimates show that, after the second round of voting next Sunday, the RN will win between 230 and 280 seats in the 577-seat lower house – a surprise from its tally of 88 in the outgoing parliament. What is the increase? NFP was estimated to get between 125 and 165 seats, with Ensemble trailing with between 70 and 100 seats.

The election, which Macron called after his party was defeated by the RN in European Parliament elections earlier this month, leaves him with the remaining three years of his presidency in an awkward partnership with a prime minister from an opposition party. May leave to see.

There was jubilation in the northern town of Heinen-Beaumont as the RN election party results were announced – but Marine Le Pen insisted next Sunday's vote would be key.

“Democracy has spoken, and the French people have put the National Rally and its allies first – and virtually wiped out the Macronist bloc,” he told an enthusiastic crowd, adding: “Nothing. wins – and the second round will be decisive.”

In a speech at the RN headquarters in Paris, Jordan Bardella, the party's 28-year-old leader and prime minister, echoed Le Pen's message.

“Next Sunday's vote is the most decisive in the entire history of the Fifth Republic,” Bardella said.

In dramatic speeches before the first round, Bardella said he would refuse to form a minority government, in which the RN would need the votes of allies to pass legislation. If the RN loses an outright majority and Bardella sticks to his word, Macron may have to look for a left-wing prime minister to form a technocratic government.

Yves Hermann/Reuters

Marine Le Pen casts her vote at a polling station in Heinen-Beaumont on June 30, 2024.

After going into a three-way run-off with an unprecedented number of seats, a week of political bargaining will begin, as centrist and left-wing parties try to stand up for individual seats or to stave off nationalist and anti-immigrant sentiment. Decide not to. The RN – a longtime fixture in French politics – won a majority.

While the RN – under its former name, the National Front – has performed strongly in the first round of votes in the past, left and center parties have previously united to prevent it from taking power. , under a principle known as “cordon”. Sanitaire.”

After Marine's father and the National Front's decades-long leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, unexpectedly defeated Socialist candidate Lionel Jospin in the 2002 presidential election, the Socialists threw themselves behind center-right candidate Jacques Chirac. Weight was increased, which supported them. Landslide in second round run-off.

In an attempt to deny the RN a majority, the NFP – a left-wing coalition formed earlier this month – promised to withdraw all its candidates who came third in the first round.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of the NFP's largest party – France Enbaud – told supporters on Sunday, “Our directive is clear – not another vote, not another seat for the national rally”.

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Protesters take part in a rally against the far-right after the results of the first round of parliamentary elections were announced at the Place de la Republice on June 30, 2024 in Paris.

“A long week awaits us, everyone will make a decision with their own conscience, a decision that will determine, in the long run, the future of our country and the destiny of each one of us,” Mélenchon added.

Marine Tondelier, leader of the Green Party – a more moderate part of the NFP – made a personal plea to Macron to give up seats reserved for denying the RN a majority.

“We're counting on you: If you finish third in a three-way race, drop out, and if you don't qualify for the second round, call your supporters to vote for such a candidate. who supports Republican values,” he said.

Macron's Ensemble allies have also called on their supporters to stop the far-right from taking office, but have warned against giving their votes to the firebrand Melenchon.

Gabriel Atal, Macron's mentor and outgoing prime minister, urged voters to prevent the RN from winning a majority, but said Mélenchon's France Envoy party lacked a “credible alternative” to the far-right government. has been

Former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, another Macron ally, said: “There should be no vote for the candidates of the National Rally, but also for the unhinged candidates of France, with whom we disagree on fundamental principles. Is.”

Whether tactical voting could prevent the RN from winning a majority is unclear. In Sunday's vote, the RN won support in places it could not have imagined until recently. In the 20th arrondissement of Nord department, an industrial center, the leader of the Communist Party, Fabien Roussel, was defeated in the first round by an RN candidate with no previous political experience. The seat was held by the Communists since 1962.

Abdul Sabour/Reuters

Jean-Luc Melenchon collects voting papers before casting his vote at a polling station in Paris on June 30, 2024.

Macron's decision to call snap elections – France's first since 1997 – took the country and even his closest allies by surprise. Sunday's vote was three years earlier than required and was held just three weeks after Macron's Renaissance party was defeated by the RN in the European Parliament elections.

Macron has pledged to see out the remainder of his final presidential term, which runs until 2027, but now faces the prospect of being appointed prime minister by an opposition party – in an unusual arrangement known as “cohabitation”. goes

The French government faces little trouble passing laws when the president and the majority in parliament belong to the same party. When they don't, things can come to a standstill. While the president determines the country's foreign, European and defense policy, the parliamentary majority is responsible for national laws such as pensions and taxation.

But these mandates could overlap, potentially plunging France into a constitutional crisis. For example, Bardella has ruled out sending troops to help Ukraine resist a Russian invasion – an idea floated by Macron – and said he would allow Kiev to attack targets inside Russia. The French will not allow military equipment to be used. It is unclear whose will will prevail in such conflicts, where the line between domestic and foreign policy is blurred.

Geoffrey van der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images

Demonstrators stand at the La République monument and light a candle after taking part in a rally following the announcement of the results of the first round of French parliamentary elections at Place de la République on June 30, 2024 in Paris.

A far-right government could create a fiscal and constitutional crisis. The RN has pledged lavish spending – from rolling back Macron's pension reforms to cutting taxes on fuel, gas and electricity – at a time when France's budget could be brutally cut by Brussels.

With one of the largest deficits in the eurozone, France may need to embark on a period of austerity to avoid misunderstanding the European Commission's new fiscal rules. But, if implemented, the RN's spending plans would add to France's deficit – a prospect that has rattled bond markets and cited the shortest-serving prime minister in British history. , has warned of a “Liz Truss-style financial crisis”.

In a brief statement Sunday evening, Macron said the high turnout showed French voters' “desire to clarify the political situation” and called on his supporters to rally in the second round.

“In the face of a national rally, the time has come for a broad, clearly Democratic and Republican rally for the second round,” he said.

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