Le Pen’s far-right party wins first round as Macron’s snap elections gamble backfires

Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigrant National Rally led a first round of voting on Sunday in exceptionally high-stakes elections that could put France’s government in the hands of a far-right party for the first time since World War II. President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling coalition was beaten into third place by a fledgling alliance of the left as the incumbent’s gamble with a snap election backfired spectacularly.

Three weeks after trouncing its rivals in low-turnout European polls, Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) confirmed its status as France’s leading political force in a first round of legislative elections marked by the highest turnout in three decades.

Le Pen’s camp secured a clear victory, albeit not a decisive one, meaning the vote’s ultimate outcome remains uncertain ahead of a second round of voting on July 7. Macron, whose decision to call the snap election had stunned friends and foes alike, has urged voters to rally against the far right next Sunday.

RN and its allies on the right took 33.2% of the first-round vote, ahead of the left-wing New Popular Front (NFP) on 28.1%, according to projections by pollsters Ipsos-Talan. Macron’s Ensemble alliance trailed in third place with 21%, followed by the conservative Les Républicains and their partners on 10%.

The sudden prospect of a far-right government succeeded in reuniting France’s bitterly fractured left – with a speed that caught the Élysée Palace off guard.

Read more on FRANCE 24 English

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