Marine Le Pen’s Party Leads First Round, Setting Stage for Potential Shift in French Politics

In an unprecedented turn of events, France’s far-right National Rally (RN) has emerged as the dominant force in the first round of parliamentary elections, bringing them closer to a potential seismic shift in French politics.

Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration party supporters celebrated as RN secured 33.1% of the vote, outpacing a left-wing alliance at 28% and President Emmanuel Macron’s camp trailed with 20.76%.

Advertisement

Marine Le Pen, the face of RN, declared the president’s “Macronist bloc has been all but wiped out, signaling a dramatic change in the political landscape.

This result marks the first time the far right has won the initial round of a French parliamentary election, a historic moment that veteran commentator Alain Duhamel described as a significant milestone.

RN’s 28-year-old leader, Jordan Bardella, expressed his ambitions clearly: “I aim to be prime minister for all the French people if the French give us their votes.

With their sights set on an absolute majority of 289 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly, the National Rally’s goals include stringent immigration controls, tax cuts, and heightened law and order measures.

However, projections for next Sunday’s second-round run-off votes suggest they may fall short of achieving this outright majority.

Without an absolute majority, France could face a hung parliament, limiting RN’s ability to fully implement its agenda.

Advertisement

This election, which President Macron called after RN’s victory in European elections, was intended as a strategic move but now threatens to upend the established political order.

With 10.6 million French citizens casting their votes for RN and some conservative Republicans aligning with them, the landscape has dramatically shifted.

Turnout for the first round was notably high at 66.7%, the highest for a parliamentary election since 1997, highlighting the critical nature of this vote.

The swift three-week campaign saw the election of 37 National Rally MPs, each securing more than half the vote, while 32 MPs were elected for the left-wing New Popular Front.

In response to RN’s success, hundreds of left-wing voters gathered in Paris’s Place de la République, expressing their shock and anger. President Macron remained largely silent, leaving his prime minister, Gabriel Attal, to address the nation.

Attal’s brief and solemn speech underscored the gravity of the situation: “Not a single vote must go to the National Rally, he declared, emphasizing the importance of preventing an RN majority.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of France Unbowed (LFI) and a key figure in the New Popular Front, echoed Attal’s sentiment. Despite his radical stance within the left-wing coalition, Mélenchon agreed that stopping RN was paramount. “One thing is for sure, Mélenchon stated, “Mr. Attal won’t be prime minister any longer.”

The National Rally’s journey from the fringes of French society to the mainstream has been long and transformative.

With a young, charismatic leader in Jordan Bardella and a platform that resonates with many voters, RN is on the brink of potentially reshaping French politics.

Their policies range from banning mobile phones in classrooms to reducing energy taxes and cutting benefits for foreigners.

In one of RN’s potential strongholds east of Paris, a voter named Patrick encapsulated the party’s appeal: “People aren’t happy when there’s insecurity on the streets.

This sentiment was echoed by Eric Ciotti, a conservative leader who broke ranks with his Republican party to form an alliance with RN, calling it “unprecedented and historic.”

Commentator Pierre Haski remarked that France has entered “uncharted territory, with only bad outcomes in sight.

This sentiment reflects widespread frustration with President Macron, whose strategic gamble has resulted in a highly unpredictable political environment.

While RN has a chance at an absolute majority, a hung parliament with RN holding the most seats appears more likely. The New Popular Front, buoyed by support from other left-wing voters, also stands to increase its share of the vote.

The second-round run-offs will feature either duels between two parties or three-way races, known as “triangular battles, which were rare in the last election but are now more common due to high turnout.

Prime Minister Attal emphasized the importance of strategic voting in the second round. In “several hundred constituencies, his party’s candidates are best positioned to block RN.

Attal framed it as a moral duty to prevent the far right from implementing its “disastrous project. However, many centrist candidates who came third are expected to step aside if a Socialist, Greens, or Communist rival stands a better chance of defeating RN.

One notable example is Albane Branlant, a Macron candidate who stepped down to support LFI rival Francois Ruffin. “I draw a line between political rivals and enemies of the republic, Branlant said.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon also pledged that his party’s candidates would withdraw if they were in third place and RN was leading.

Former President François Hollande summarized the stakes succinctly: “We have an imperative duty to ensure that the far right cannot win a majority in the Assembly.”

As France braces for the second round of voting, the political future remains uncertain.

The outcome will determine whether the far right’s historic gains translate into actual governing power or if a coalition of centrist and left-wing forces can hold them at bay.

 

This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members