France’s Far Right Leads in First Round of Parliamentary Election

France’s far-right has taken the lead in the first round of the country’s parliamentary elections on Sunday, solidifying their dominance in French politics and positioning themselves near the threshold of power.

Supporters of Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration National Rally (RN) celebrated as she declared the president’s “Macronist bloc has been all but wiped out.”

RN is poised to secure 33.2% of the vote, with a left-wing alliance trailing at 28.1% and Macron’s alliance at 21%.

“I aim to be prime minister for all the French people, if the French give us their votes,” stated 28-year-old RN leader Jordan Bardella.

This marks the first time the far right has led in a French parliamentary election, a historic development according to veteran commentator Alain Duhamel.

Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella seek an absolute majority of 289 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly.

Projections for the second-round run-off scheduled for next Sunday suggest they may fall short of this goal.

If they fail to secure an absolute majority, it would result in a hung parliament, thwarting RN’s plans for immigration reform, tax cuts, and law enforcement.

President Macron called these elections unnecessary, but after RN’s European election triumph, he deemed them the “most responsible solution.”

Turnout for the first round was the highest since 1997, underscoring the pivotal nature of this swift three-week campaign.

Following the initial round, RN has secured 39 MPs, while the left-wing New Popular Front has garnered 32.

In Paris’ Place de la République, hundreds of left-wing supporters gathered to express dismay at RN’s success.

President Macron deferred public remarks to Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, who urged for a “broad, democratic, and republican alliance” in the second round.

While other leaders rallied supporters, Attal delivered a brief, solemn address from his residence at Hôtel Matignon.

“Not a single vote must go to the National Rally,” he said. “The stakes are clear – to prevent the National Rally from having an absolute majority.”

“One thing is for sure,” remarked Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the abrasive leader of France Unbowed (LFI), ” Mr. Attal won’t be prime minister any longer.”

His party is the most radical among the left-wing parties comprising the New Popular Front, which closely trailed the National Rally by just a few points.

Despite differences, he agreed with the prime minister’s plea against supporting RN.

The National Rally has come a long way, starting from the extreme-right fringe of French society to now garnering the support of one in three French voters.

They boast a charismatic young leader who is poised to potentially become France’s next prime minister. Their policy platform spans from banning mobile phones in classrooms and reducing taxes on energy to withdrawing benefits from foreigners.

“People aren’t happy when there’s insecurity on the streets,” noted a voter named Patrick in a potential RN stronghold near Paris.

“Victory is within reach,” declared conservative leader Eric Ciotti, who formed a historic alliance with RN.

Commentator Pierre Haski describes France as navigating uncharted territory, foreseeing only adverse outcomes. “That’s why many people are expressing frustration with President Macron.”

While RN stands a chance of achieving an absolute majority, a more probable scenario now seems to be a hung parliament, with RN holding the largest number of seats. The New Popular Front could also bolster its share of the vote, benefiting from cross-party support.

The upcoming run-off round next Sunday will feature either head-to-head contests or three-way races. Although rare in previous elections, the high turnout has qualified over 300 third-placed candidates for these “triangular” battles.

The crucial decision now rests at the local constituency level, determining whether third-placed candidates will withdraw from the race to prevent RN from securing the seat.