Horse-trading begins after France's far right wins first round of snap elections

Marine Le Pen's far-right National Rally (RN) party has won the first round of France’s parliamentary election, although the final result will depend on days of political wheeling and dealing ahead of next Sunday’s run-off.

Exit polls on Sunday showed the RN had won around 34 percent of the vote, ahead of the left-wing New Popular Front alliance on 29.1 percent, with President Emmanuel Macron’s Ensemble (Together) coalition in third place on 22 percent.

The fractured right-wing Republicans party garnered 10.2 percent.

The results, if confirmed, are a blow to Macron who came to power in 2017 promising to halt the rise of the far right.

However, the presidential group did better than predicted, improving on the dismal 15 percent it got in the 9 June European Parliament elections, and which prompted Macron to dissolve the national assembly and call the snap poll.

In what was seen as a sign of faith in France's democratic institutions, more than 67 percent of the French electorate turned out to vote – a level not seen since 1997.

Thousands of people gathered at Place de la Republique in central Paris on Sunday evening to protest the RN's strong showing.

“We are going towards the extreme," said Cynthia Fefoheio, a 19-year-old political science student. "People don’t understand that this will impact us for years and years. This is a France of hate that is growing, not a France of solidarity and union."

A "cohabitation" prime minister

In such cases, centre-right and centre-left parties have traditionally teamed up to keep the RN from power in what is known as the “republican front”.

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