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French Elections: Marine Le Pen’s Far Right Wins First Round; Next Round Could Create History

Until a few years ago, Marine Le Pen was a politician on the fringes. Now, she’s the closest she’s ever been to power in France. She took the stage on Sunday to address her supporters, infused with a boost from voters. Her party National Rally, a far right party, had polled 33 percent of the vote share and was in pole position. “My dear compatriots,” she said, “democracy has spoken, and the French have placed the National Rally and its allies on top and have practically erased Macron’s bloc.”

Macron’s centrist coalition came in third with a vote share between 20.5-23% while the hastily put-together left alliance the New Popular Front is second with 29%. Marine Le Pen’s National Rally was the clear winner of the first round of Parliamentary elections in France. The far right leader said it was the first time her candidates had won dozens of seats in the first round, a clear signal of winds of change. She urged her supporters to ensure that the coalition gets an absolute majority in the house of 577 so Jordan Bardella can become the Prime Minister.


France follows a two-step election process. If candidates get over 50% of the vote share in the first round, they are elected. If not, the top 2 candidates head to the next round that will be held on July 7. Sometimes the second round has 3 candidates depending on vote shares polled during round 1. But in practice, in France, left-leaning parties have dropped out of the race to consolidate the votes behind any candidate who can defeat the far right coalition, which means they have dropped out of the race if they are in third place going into the second phase of polling. It’s a plan the Left with follow this time too

Leader of the Far Left Party Jean Luc Melechon told his supporters before the final counting of votes on Sunday, “In accordance with our principles and our consistent positions in all previous elections, we will not allow the RN (National Rally) to win anywhere. That’s why, if they come first and we come third, we will withdraw our candidacy.”

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If the election trend of round 1 continues in the voting on July 7, Gabriel Attal will lose his Prime Minister’s post. He warned the French people of what he categorised as a ‘disastrous project’. “Tonight’s lesson is that the far right is on the doorstep of power. Never before in our democracy has the National Assembly risked being dominated by the far-right, as it was tonight. And so, our objective is clear: to prevent the National Rally from having an absolute majority in the second round, from dominating the National Assembly and therefore from governing the country with its disastrous project,” said Attal.

A win for the anti-immigrant National Rally has got a mixed response from voters. France saw a high voter turnout in this election in contrast to the EU polls, the results of which saw Macron announce snap polls. Macron had taken a big gamble calling for snap polls, taking even his own Prime Minister Gabriel Attal by surprise. Pollsters in France have got their predictions correct so far but they say predicting the next leg accurately is not easy.

The next one week will see hectic negotiations and campaigns that will decide if France’s politics takes a hard right turn.