French far right eyes power as rivals wrangle over scope of anti-Le Pen front

The first round of France’s legislative elections has confirmed that Marine Le Pen’s far right is now the dominant force in French politics, putting her anti-immigrant National Rally within reach of power. Whether the rest of the political spectrum still has the ability – and the will – to hold it back will determine the outcome of July 7 runoffs.

After a lightening campaign marred by a rise in hate speech, French voters on Sunday put the National Rally (RN) in a commanding position in the first round of snap elections, placing the party founded by supporters of Nazi-allied Vichy France at the gates of power.

Le Pen’s party and its partners on the right took a third of the first-round vote, five points clear of a fledgling coalition of the left known as the New Popular Front – and a staggering 12 points ahead of President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling alliance.

The nationalist, anti-immigrant party topped the race in 296 out of France’s 577 constituencies, winning 39 of them outright with over 50% of the vote. Whether it can clear the last hurdle in a second round next Sunday will hinge on a record number of three-way races pitting, in most cases, RN candidates against rivals from the left and Macron’s centre-right camp.

Once watertight, the dam has been steadily eroded, even as the far-right wave has grown stronger at each new election.

Macron’s baffling gamble

Read more on FRANCE 24 English

Read also:
Le Pen’s far-right party wins first round as Macron’s snap elections gamble backfires
How Bolloré, the ‘French Murdoch’, carried Le Pen’s far right to the brink of power
‘Love France or leave it’: the small-town voters driving support for Le Pen’s far right