France’s far right celebrates lead and seeks majority

France’s far right is in pole position after the first round of parliamentary elections that confirmed their dominance in French politics and brought them to the gates of power.

Supporters of Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration National Rally (RN) cheered as she said the president’s “Macronist bloc has been all but wiped out”.

RN won 33.1% of the vote, with a left-wing alliance behind on 28%, and the Macron camp behind on 20.76%.

“I aim to be prime minister for all the French people, if the French give us their votes,” said 28-year-old RN party leader Jordan Bardella.

Never before has the far right won the first round of a French parliamentary election. The simple fact that it has become possible is historic, says veteran commentator Alain Duhamel.

What Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella want is an absolute majority of 289 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly.

Seat projections for next Sunday’s second round run-off votes suggest they may fall short.

Without an absolute majority, France will have a hung parliament and RN will be unable to push through its plans for immigration, tax cuts and law and order.

There was no need for Emmanuel Macron to call this election, but after RN’s victory in European elections he said it was the “most responsible solution”.

It was a gamble that now threatens to turn the political order on its head, with 10.6 million French citizens voting for RN and some of the conservative Republicans who backed them.

Turnout at 66.7% was the highest for a parliamentary first round since 1997, reflecting the pivotal nature of a vote that came after a lightning-quick campaign of barely three weeks.

Already after the first round, 37 National Rally MPs have been elected by winning more than half the vote, while 32 have been elected for the left-wing New Popular Front.

Hundreds of left-wing voters gathered in Place de la République in Paris to voice their anger and shock at RN’s success.

President Macron left the talking to his prime minister, Gabriel Attal, but he did issue a statement, saying the time had come for a “broad, clearly democratic and republican alliance for the second round”.

While other leaders addressed cheering supporters, Mr Attal made a short, solemn address outside his residence at Hôtel Matignon.

“Not a single vote must go to the National Rally,” he declared. “The stakes are clear – to prevent the National Rally from having an absolute majority.”

“One thing is for sure,” said Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the abrasive leader of France Unbowed (LFI), ” Mr Attal won’t be prime minister any longer.”

LFI’s political rivals say it is an extremist party, but it is the biggest of the left-wing groups that make up the New Popular Front, which finished within a few points of National Rally.

However, he agreed with the prime minister that not one more vote should got to RN. – BBC

By Paul Kirby

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *