French Elections: Left Wing Bloc Triumphs In Knife Edge Parliamentary Elections; Far Right National Rally Comes Third – Exit Polls

The left wing New Popular Front (NFP) alliance triumphed in the second round of France’s snap parliamentary elections on Sunday, with the far right National Rally (RN) party coming in third, according to first exit polls released immediately after voting closed.

Per the preliminary results, the NFP bloc has won between 170 to 190 seats in the 577-seat lower house, while RN has taken between 135 to 155 seats, behind President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Ensemble bloc which looks set to take 150 to 170 seats.

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The result was unexpected with polls ahead of the vote predicting that RN was on course to clinch between 200 to 230 seats, even if looked set to miss out on an absolute majority.

Early exit polls published by media in neighboring Belgium in the final hour of voting had also suggested RN was on track to come out on top.

As the news of the NFP alliance’s victory broke at 8pm local time, thousands of people descended on Paris’ Place de la République to celebrate. “Racists, fascists, you’re one the ones who are terrorists,” chanted the crowd, referring to the RN’s populist rhetoric of recent weeks.

According to interior ministry figures released before booths closed, the participation rate was 67.10%, which is higher than the first round of voting on June 30, and the highest level since 1997.

The polls was one of the most decisive elections in France since WW2, pitting an anti-immigrant, law and order right wing bloc led by RN against the hastily assembled left-wing NFP alliance consisting of the La France Insoumise, the Socialist Party, Les Écologistes, the French Communist Party, Génération.s, and Place Publique parties.

The Ensemble bloc gathers Macron’s Renaissance as well as the Democratic Movement (MoDem), Horizons, En commun and the Progressive Federation.

Under France’s election protocol, in seats where there is no clear majority in the first round, candidates with at least 12.5% of the vote can stand in the second round.

Not natural political bedfellows, the NFP and Ensemble blocs worked together to ensure their candidates did not split the vote in constituencies where RN, NFP and Ensemble candidates had made it through.

This resulted in 134 NFP candidates and 82 Ensemble candidates standing down.

RN leader Jordan Bardella, who had looked on the cusp of becoming prime minister, told his supporters on Sunday evening that the tactic was an “alliance of dishonour”.

“France has been thrown into the arms of the extreme left of Jean-Luc Mélenchon,” he added, referring to the hard-left leader of NFP alliance member party La France Insoumise (France Unbowed).

The fact that no party has come out with an absolute majority means France is set for days, weeks even, of political uncertainty.

As the exit polls hit the wires, Mélenchon immediately demanded that Macron-appointed Prime Minister Gabriel Attal step down and that the president invite the NFP to form a government.

“The will of the people must be strictly respected,” he said. “The president must bow down and admit this defeat without circumventing it. The prime minister must go! The president has the power, the president has the duty to call on the New Popular Front to govern. It is ready for it.”

Macron called the snap election on June 9 in response to hefty gains by RN in European elections, in which 373 million citizens from 27 countries belonging to the European Union bloc voted on its 720-seat European parliament.

The French turnout for that poll was less than 50% of the electorate but Macron said the result posed “a danger” to France.

Regardless of which bloc won the second round, Macron had vowed to stay in place as president until the end of this current mandate in May 2027, although it is not clear how much power he will wield without a majority in parliament.

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