The far-right won the first phase of the French election Election News

France's far-right National Rally (RN) party has won a landslide victory in the first round of the country's early parliamentary elections.

Pollsters IFOP, Ipsos, OpinionWay and Elabe show Marine Le Pen's RN winning around 34 percent of the vote. The left-wing New Popular Front (NFP) coalition got about 29 percent of the vote and President Emmanuel Macron's centrist coalition about 20.5 percent.

The result puts the RN in a position where it can start thinking optimistically about forming a government. However, all other political forces have indicated that they will cooperate to stop the far-right party in the second round of voting on July 7.

Macron stunned the country by calling a snap election after the RN surged in European Parliament elections last month, gambling that the anti-immigration party with historical links to anti-Semitism would not repeat the feat at the national level.

In party leader Le Pen's Heinen-Beaumont constituency in northern France, supporters waved French flags and sang the national anthem La Marseillaise.

“The French have shown their willingness to turn the page on contemptible and rusting power,” he told the cheering crowd.

RN president Jordan Bardella, a Le Pen supporter and prime ministerial candidate, pointed out that the second term would be “the most important in the history of the French Fifth Republic”.

He said Macron's party had been wiped out and accused the left of creating an “existential crisis” that was a “real threat to France and all the French people”.

Pollster Elabe said in an estimate for BFM TV that the RN and its allies could win 260-310 parliamentary seats in the second voting round on July 7, while Ipsos predicted 230-280 seats for the RN and its allies. The range is estimated. France TV.

Both Le Pen and Bardella have said their party is aiming for an absolute majority in France's lower house of parliament, the National Assembly – a total of 289 seats.

Macron calls for 'broad democratic unity'

The RN's chances of winning power and forming a government depend on the political deal-making of its rivals in the coming days. In the past, center-right and center-left parties have worked together to keep the right out of power.

Macron called for a “broad” democratic coalition against the far-right.

“In the face of a national rally, the time has come for a broad, clearly democratic and democratic coalition for a second term,” he said in a statement.

He added that the high turnout in the first round showed “the importance of this vote to all our countrymen and the desire to clarify the political situation”.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal warned that the far right was at the “gates of power”, and that “no vote should go to the national rally”.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, who leads the left-wing New Popular Front, said he would drop third-place candidates in the first round of parliamentary elections, to ensure a two-horse race for the far-right. Bazu's RN candidates can be defeated. Upcoming votes.

A protester in Lyon holds up a placard reading 'Everyone against the RN'.  People are walking behind him.
A woman in Lyon joins the protest against the RN. Rallies against the extreme right wing were also held in other major cities. [Jeff Pachoud/AFP]

If no candidate reaches 50 percent in the first round, the top two contenders automatically qualify for the second round, along with all those with 12.5 percent of registered voters. In a runoff, whoever wins with the most votes takes the constituency.

“According to our principles and our position in all previous elections, we will never allow the national rally to win,” Melenchon said.

Laurent Berger, former secretary general of the French Democratic Confederation of Labor and current president of the European Trade Union Confederation, called for a “blockade” in a post on X.

“Tonight, our democracy and our democratic values ​​are at stake in the face of a national rally at the threshold of power,” Berger said.

“In the face of danger… the far right must be stopped”.

High turnout

On Sunday, Ipsos estimated turnout at 65.5 percent when polls closed at 8 p.m. (18:00 GMT), the highest since 1997.

The RN was a political pariah in France for years, but Le Pen has tried to rebrand the party since taking control from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, bringing it closer to power than it has ever been.

Leftist New Popular Front in Paris - a rally in support of the NFP and against the RN.  People are waving NFP flags and banners.
People show their support for the New Popular Front (NFP) as they gather in the Place de la République to protest against the far-right RN. [Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters]

Le Pen has “done plastic surgery to her party,” according to Sarah Alvane, an academic at Toulouse-Capitol University.

“But is it still the same rotten, inhumane, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-minority party… we know what the far right stands for,” Alone told Al Jazeera.

He said the results of the vote also rejected Macron's policies, which the president sees as “arrogant” and pandering to the wealthy.

“I personally know of cases of people who voted for the far right because of Macron's policies, especially on the economic level.”

The results sparked street protests in Paris, Lyon, Nantes and other major cities.

A few thousand anti-RN protesters gathered in Paris's Place de la Republique on Sunday night for a left-wing coalition rally.

Najia Khalidi, a 33-year-old teacher, said she felt “disgust, sadness and fear” at the RN's strong findings.

“I'm not used to demonstrating,” she said. “I think I came to reassure myself, not to feel alone.”

If the RN manages to win an absolute majority in the second round, it will trigger a tense period of “harmony” – whenever the president is from a different political party than the majority in parliament – with Macron, who has to serve What is the commitment? Its tenure is till 2027.

An alternative outcome could see protracted negotiations to form a sustainable government.

Risk analysis firm Eurasia Group said the RN now looked “likely” to fall short of the absolute majority. It added that France had faced “a technocratic government of 'national unity' with at least 12 months brutally blocking the National Assembly and – at best – limited ability to govern”.

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