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France’s Marine Le Pen Projected to Win Snap Election

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Marine Le Pen
Marine Le Pen: Getty Images

France’s National Rally, led by firebrand Marine Le Pen, is expected to win a sudden election called by President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron dissolved France’s national legislature following a crushing defeat for his Renaissance party in Sunday’s European Parliament election. The first round of elections is slated for June 30, less than three weeks away, with a runoff on July 7.

Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigrant, right-wing National Rally party, or RN, is expected to win 235 to 265 members in the National Assembly.

According to Toluna Harris Interactive’s study for Challenges, M6, and RTL, this is a significant increase from its present 88, but it falls short of the 289 required for an absolute majority.

According to the poll, Macron’s centrist alliance might see its number of lawmakers cut in half, from 250 to 125-155. Left-wing parties might control 115 to 145 seats combined, although each could run on its own.

There is no guarantee that the RN would lead the government, with or without a partnership with others. Other alternatives include a broad coalition of mainstream parties or a hung parliament.

Stocks drop in France

However, Macron’s unexpected move gives the increasingly popular extreme right a legitimate shot at power. This amounted to a gamble on his political destiny, and the euro instantly fell, as did French stocks and government bonds. RN got 31.4% of the European Parliament vote, while the Renaissance party coalition had 14.6%.

Even if the RN gains a majority in the French parliament, Macron will stay president for three more years and continue to be in charge of defense and foreign policy.

However, he would lose control of the domestic agenda, including economic policy, security, immigration, and finance, which would have an impact on other measures, such as aid to Ukraine, because he would need parliament’s approval to fund any assistance as part of France’s budget.

“We’re still in shock,” Emmanuel Pellerin, a Renaissance Party legislator, told Reuters. “Everything points to the RN achieving a relative or absolute majority. But this forces the French to consider what is at risk.

In that setting, political parties were rushing to field candidates and negotiate potential coalitions.

On Monday, RN leaders Jordan Bardella and Le Pen met with Marion Marechal of the minor far-right group Reconquete. Marechal is Le Pen’s niece and was a senior member of her party prior to their split.

Left-wing fractured

Following the meeting, Bardella stated that talks were underway to form an alliance. He also mentioned that he was speaking with several members of the conservative Les Republicains.

“I fervently wish that we can all find ways to come together,” Marechal told Reuters.

Leaders of France’s very split left, including the hard-left LFI (France Unbowed), Communists, Socialists, and Greens, were also in negotiations.

“We don’t have time to procrastinate,” LFI’s Manon Aubry told reporters. “The objective is to be able to meet again, to build the future and above all to go and win.”

According to a source close to Macron, the 46-year-old leader, whose power has dwindled since losing his absolute majority in parliament two years ago, reckoned that he might regain a majority by surprising everyone.

For Le Pen and Bardella, the goal is to turn popularity into victory. The vote is expected to center not only on dissatisfaction with Macron’s leadership style, cost of living, and immigration policies, but also on whether the RN can be trusted to manage a major European government.

Among the party’s policies, the RN has supported increased public spending, despite already high levels of French debt, threatening to increase bank funding costs.

The RN also wants to expel more migrants, end family reunification, limit childcare subsidies for French citizens, give French nationals priority in access to social housing and jobs, and revoke residency for migrants who have been out of work for more than one year.

The euro plunged by up to 0.6%, while Paris blue-chip stocks fell by 1.4%, led by heavy losses in banks BNP Paribas.

The early election will take place shortly before the July 26 start of the Paris Olympics, when all eyes will be on France.

Source: Reuters

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