Far-right National Rally takes first-round lead in French parliamentary elections

The far-right National Rally (RN) has won the first round of the French parliamentary elections with 33.15 per cent of the vote, Le Monde reports, citing French Interior ministry figures on Monday morning.

In second place was the New Popular Front left-wing alliance, with 27.99 per cent, followed by president Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance, Ensemble, on 20.83 per cent. Les Républicains achieved 6.7 per cent.

Turnout was 66.7 per cent, the highest for a parliamentary first round vote since 1997.

At least 37 RN and 32 New Popular Front were directly elected in Sunday’s first round. RN figurehead Marine Le Pen called on voters to give her party an absolute majority in the second round and make party leader Jordan Bardella prime minister. 

The more likely outcome may be a hung parliament with RN holding the most seats. The New Popular Front could also increase its share of the vote, buoyed by voters from other parties.

Triangular battles

If no candidate receives an absolute majority in the first round, a runoff is held between the top two plus any candidate who received more than 12.5 per cent of the vote. Sunday’s second round will feature either duels between two parties or three-way races. 

As a result of the high turnout, more than 300 third-placed candidates qualified for these triangular battles. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of La France insoumise, said the left-wing alliance would withdraw all its third-placed candidates to avoid splitting the vote. 

Thousands of people took to the streets in French cities on Sunday to protest against the rise of the far-right. In Paris, demonstrators gathered on Place de la République after an appeal by the New Popular Front, some of whose leading politicians were present and addressed the crowd.

Rallies also took place in Nantes, Dijon, Lille and Marseille. According to media reports, there were clashes between protesters and police in Lyon. 

'Regime crisis'

Macron called the snap election and dissolved parliament following poor results for his party in the European elections on 9 June. Sunday’s first round, with the RN “on the doorstep of power”, was a “disaster” for Macron, the French press said. 

“When historians look back at the dissolution, they will have only one word: disaster! We couldn’t imagine a more complete disaster,” said Le Figaro. “France finds itself faced with the dual prospect of political adventure or institutional deadlock: the two facets of a regime crisis.”


National Rally figurehead Marine Le Pen during the results evening of the first round of the parliamentary elections in Henin-Beaumont, northern France, 30 June 2024 © PHOTOOQR/VOIX DU NRD/MAILLARD

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