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France’s Far Right Party Wins First Round of Parliamentary Elections

After dominating the European elections by a landslide, the French far-right party Rassemblement National (National Rally, or RN) won the first round of the snap parliamentary elections with approximately 34% of votes, according to exit polls on June 30.

The socialist party Nouveau Front Populaire party garnered an estimated 29%, while France’s President Emmanuel Macron came in third with approximately 21%. The elections, which Macron called in the wake of the European vote, drew 69.7% of voters — the highest turnout for parliamentary elections since 1986.

The second round of the election will take place on July 7, less than a month before the start of the Olympic Games in Paris.

When Macron announced his decision to dissolve the National Assembly on June 9, he called it an “act of trust. In the capacity of French people to make the best choice of itself and for future generations. Trust in our democracy.”

But based on the defeat of Macron’s clan on the first round of these elections, the French President will likely have to cohabit with a prime minister belonging to the far right. Jordan Bardella, the 28 year-old close ally to Marine Le Pen, is well positioned to take that role.

It’s a historic win for the far right which could end up dominating the National Assembly with as many as 260 to 310 seats more than twice as many seats as Macron’s party, according to BFM TV news channel. The National Assembly has 577 seats in total.

Macron’s presidential mandate ends in 2027. Although Macron beat Le Pen during the last two presidential elections, in 2017 and in 2022, the French far-right party has never been closer to entering the government. The country has been on its highest security alert for the last several months, fueling fears and anti-immigration rhetorics.

Reacting to the first round of the parliamentary elections, Le Pen said “the democracy has spoken out, the French people have placed the Rassemblement National and its allies at the forefront, they have almost erased Macron’s bloc.”

While Macron has yet to react to the exit polls, his party, Renaissance, has sent out a statement received by Variety in which it called for people to fight off the far right. “We remain convinced that our candidates can be the ambitious movement to all Republicans who wish to protect our country from the disastrous projects of the far right, protect the French from the rise in taxes and economic ruin that is awaiting them in case of a win by the far right and protect France from the chaos that awaits them if we don’t do anything.”

“We can’t let the keys to our country to the far right. Everything in its project, its values and its history make it an unacceptable threat against which we must battle,” said the letter signed by Macron’s party.

Although it came in second in the polls, the Nouveau Front Populaire is not considered by Macron’s clan as a proper weapon against the far right due to its alliance with radical left party La France Insoumise (LFI). The latter, which is governed by the controversial Jean-Luc Melenchon, has been repeatedly accused of fueling antisemitism and importing tensions from the war in Gaza to France throughout the campaign.

France saw its stock exchange take a hit shortly after the far right’s victory at the European elections. The following week, the three biggest banks in France, BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole and Societe Generale, subsequently lost between 12-16% in value, and investor demand for government bonds saw its biggest weekly jump since 2011, amid the euro debt crisis, according to Reuters.

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