Who is Marine Le Pen? Violence breaks out in France as Left alliance takes most seats

Marine Le Pen says her party’s short-term victory is inevitable (Thomas Padilla/AP)
Marine Le Pen says her party’s short-term victory is inevitable (Thomas Padilla/AP)

The Left-wing alliance in France has won the most seats in parliament in a blow to the far-Right party of Marine Le Pen.

The New Popular Front won 182 seats, President Macron’s centrist Together alliance took 163 and the National Rally 143 seats.

France’s prime minister, Gabriel Attal, said he planned to resign, although he will stay on for the duration of the Paris Olympics after Mr Macron asked him on Monday to stay in the role for the time being to ensure stability after the election. France is now in political limbo, with a hung parliament as no party or alliance has won a majority of seats.

The results provoked violent clashes as masked protesters set off flares and around 30,000 riot police were deployed.

President Macron had called a snap vote after his party did badly in last month’s European Parliament election. He said he wanted “a clarification” of the French political landscape.

Mr Macron’s own position as president was not at stake in the election and he is due to remain in office until 2027.

Ms Le Pen's National Rally had been favourite to top the polls but thanks to tactical voting fared worse than expected. But who is Marine Le-Pen?

Who is Marine Le-Pen?

French politician and attorney Marine Le Pen made presidential runs in France in 2012, 2017 and 2022. She was a member of National Front (FN) – the previous name of National Rally, and presided over the party from 2011 to 2021. Since 2017, she has served as a representative for the 11th Pas-de-Calais constituency in the National Assembly. She led the National Rally's parliamentary party in the Assembly from June 2022 to June 2024, when Mr Macron dissolved the lower chamber and called for a snap election.

She is the aunt of former FN MP Marion Maréchal and the youngest child of former party leader Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Time listed Ms Le Pen among the top 100 important individuals in the world in 2011 and 2015. After European Parliament president Martin Schulz, she was named by Politico in 2016 as the second-most important MEP in the European Parliament.

At Panthéon-Assas University, Ms Le Pen pursued legal studies, earning a Master of Laws in 1991 and a Master of Advanced Studies (DEA) in criminal law in 1992.Enrolled in the Paris Bar Association, she practised law for six years (1992–1998), frequently serving as a public defender and appearing before the criminal chamber of the 23rd district court of Paris.

Prior to joining the legal department of the National Front in 1998, she was a member of the Paris Bar.

What are her key policies?

Ms Le Pen opposes globalisation and multiculturalism and is in favour of economic nationalism and an activist role for the government. She is in favour of restricting immigration and outlawing the ritual slaughter of livestock.

The 55-year-old had previously defended Vladimir Putin and Russia, calling for greater collaboration before Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Although she vehemently denounced the conflict in Ukraine, she added that Russia "could become an ally of France again" if it ends.

Leading a campaign to "de-demonise the National Front" in an effort to improve its standing, Ms Le Pen has expelled members who were alleged to be racist, antisemitic or Pétainite (a political philosophy associated with Nazi collaborator Philippe Pétain). After her father made divisive remarks in August 2015, she kicked him out of the party. She went on to rebrand National Front as the National Rally. Ms Le Pen continues to support many of the party's traditional policies, with an emphasis on robust anti-immigration, nationalist, and protectionist measures, even as she softens the party's opposition to same-sex partnerships and unrestricted abortions and tones down support for the death penalty.

How many votes did she receive at the 2022 presidential election?

Mr Macron led with 27.9 per cent of the vote in the first round, followed by Ms Le Pen with 23.2 per cent. He defeated her in the second round, garnering 58.5 per cent of the vote to her 41.5 per cent, a smaller margin than in the last election in 2017.

What has she said about the French election?

Ms Le Pen hopes one day her protégé Jordan Bardella, who is the party’s president, will head the French government.

In an interview, she hinted that Bardella, 28, might also assume some decision-making authority over France's military and defence matters.

On July 7, Ms Le Pen issued a statement after her far-Right party failed to win the snap election. She thanked her 10 million voters and described the progress they had made in two years as incredible. Ms Le Pen also said this made "our short-term victory inevitable".

"It will invite us to also take stock of what can undoubtedly be improved in the future," she added.