Home News Rise of France’s far right exposes deep divisions

Rise of France’s far right exposes deep divisions

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For many, France felt very different on Monday.

result First round of legislative electionsThe meeting on Sunday exposed a country deeply divided. The rise of the far right won a record number of votes, while the centrist party led by President Emmanuel Macron has all but collapsed.

“The far right has entered the gates of power,” the cover of the daily Le Parisien read the morning after the first half of Macron’s announcement of early elections.

The left-wing newspaper Libération said in an editorial that France’s far-right party was clearly racist and anti-republican. “The head of state put France in danger, and this bus did not slow down at all and now it is parked in front of the gate of Matignon” – the door of the prime minister’s office.

If the National Rally wins an outright majority in Sunday’s runoff, Macron will be forced to appoint a prime minister from among its ranks and form a cabinet.

The political decline of Macron’s party has been shocking and unbelievable. The party and its allies have the most seats in the National Assembly, but not an absolute majority. In the first of two rounds of elections, the centrist coalition ended up in third place, but far behind. Only two of his candidates received enough votes to be re-elected without a runoff, and none of the ministers he ran for seats received enough votes, compared to 37 members of the far-right National Rally and 32 members of the left-wing party alliance, the New Popular Front, which came in second.

Results from the first round of voting are usually not a reliable predictor of how many parliamentary seats each party will receive. But it now looks likely that the National Alliance will emerge as the largest force in the powerful National Assembly. The question is whether it can secure enough seats to secure an outright majority.

Failure to do so would likely leave the National Assembly in chaos, with Macron’s centrist party and its allies squeezed between the left and the right and their power greatly weakened.

“The end of an era,” declared the front page of Les Echos, a major business daily.

The conservative newspaper Le Figaro noted in an editorial: “When historians look back on this dissolution, they will have only one word to say: disaster!”

“Emmanuel Macron had everything, or almost everything,” the article continued. “And he lost everything.”

Locally, reaction to the result reflected the country’s divisions. In the north, the stronghold of the far-right National Union party, people cheered.

“I’m going to party all night,” said Manuel Queco, a 42-year-old contractor, at a local hall in the town of Heinan-Beaumont, where Le Pen received waves of congratulations after her direct victory in her own race on Sunday night. As National Rally supporters sang the national anthem in unison, Mr. Queco raised his champagne glass. “I’ve been waiting for them to win since I was 18.”

In Paris, first-round results showed an electoral map that almost completely blocked the National Rally, but gave the New Popular Front and the president’s party a piece each. However, thousands of left-wing supporters gathered at the Place de la République on Sunday evening, where the dominant mood was one of sadness and sympathy.

“I never thought I’d see this in my lifetime — the far right leading the country,” said Camille Hemard, 50, a professor of Latin, Greek and French at an advanced preparatory college, who came with her 16-year-old daughter to seek solace among the dancing crowds chanting “Everybody hates fascism.”

She added: “I hope my children don’t know about this.”

Pollsters took to radio, television and news websites to remind people that the election results were not set in stone. Only 76 of the country’s 577 legislative seats were won outright. The battle for the remaining 501 seats will unfold this week until a final vote on Sunday. Many are wondering how many candidates will withdraw from the three-way race in a strategic move to prevent the far right from winning.

Official Results Ministry of the Interior issued The election results showed that the National Rally and its allies won about 33% of the votes, the centrist Ennahda Party led by Macron and its allies won about 20% of the votes, and the New Popular Front won about 28% of the votes.

Ségolène Le Stradick Reporting from Eynan-Beaumont, France, also contributed.

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