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Source link : https://love-europe.com/2024/07/01/france/frances-far-right-may-be-on-the-brink-of-power-after-macrons-gamble-backfired-heres-what-comes-next/

Yara Nardi/Pool/Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron visit a polling station to vote in the first round of the early parliamentary elections in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, on June 30, 2024.

Paris
CNN
 — 

The man who once described his leadership style as Jupiterian now resembles Icarus, after he played with political fire and got burnt.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance was crushed on Sunday after the far-right National Rally (RN) party surged in the first round of the country’s parliamentary elections.

Once seen as a fringe movement the RN could now be positioned to assume power, after winning 33% of the vote. It would then become the first far-right party to enter the French government since World War II – although nothing is certain ahead of Sunday’s second round.

The left-wing alliance, New Popular Front, also did well, coming second with 28% of the vote.

Meanwhile, Macron’s Ensemble alliance trailed in third place with 21% of the vote, leaving many in his camp to ponder why the president called the snap election in the first place.

“Tonight is not a night like any other,” Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said solemnly in an address to the French. “The far-right are at the gates of power.”

There’s a long way to go in this election yet, however, so what happens next?

Only 76 candidates were elected to the 577-seat parliament on Sunday: 39 from the RN and its allies, 32 from the New Popular Front, and just two lawmakers from Macron’s alliance.

The rest of the seats will be decided in the second round next weekend, and huge amounts of political bargaining and maneuvering are expected before then. This could determine whether a truly seismic shift is underway in French politics, and the landscape is now divided between three rival blocs.

It’s created an unprecedented situation, with a record number of three-way races poised to take place on Sunday – 306 compared with only eight in 2022.

Only those candidates who make it past the 12.5% threshold make it to the runoff. Typically, most constituencies only see two candidates go through, but this year, around half will see three candidates proceed to the next round – a first in France’s modern history.

Those three-way races benefit candidates who came out on top in the first round and with the RN in a lead position in over half of the runoffs, some parties are strategizing to block the far-right. They don’t have much time, as candidates need to decide whether they will run or not before Tuesday night.

The left-wing New Popular Front has announced that it will withdraw all candidates who came in third to help prevent far-right candidates from getting elected.

Macron’s alliance has not been as clear with only his prime minister insisting that “not one vote should go to the far-right.”

Ultimately, it all remains just guidance – withdrawing or not is up to the individual candidates, and voters will make their own choices.

View this interactive content on CNN.com

This parliamentary election has captivated people domestically – the exceptional turnout of 67% speaks for itself, but the rest of the world should pay close attention too.

Far-right doyenne Marine Le Pen’s RN party is notoriously euroskeptic, and though it no longer talks of a full-blown “Frexit,” or French departure from the European Union, its manifesto puts into question the very foundations of the European project.

The RN has made it clear it would seek to weaken the union, and regain more control of its borders and sovereignty. Once in power, and with Italy’s Giorgia Meloni and Hungary’s Viktor Orban as far-right allies, their plans for Europe could carry a lot more weight.

If the RN does dominate parliament, it will also be good news for Russian President Vladmir Putin. Le Pen has also only briefly criticized Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, having also previously taken a huge loan from a Russian bank and boasted of her “admiration for Vladimir Putin.”

Ahead of the election, Le Pen questioned the role of the president in military affairs. Macron has pledged to see out the remainder of his final presidential term, which runs until 2027. Constitutionally, the president heads the army, and Macron has not eliminated the possibility of sending French troops to Ukraine.

Jordan Bardella, the 28-year-old leader of RN, has categorically said that as prime minister, he would not let any French soldier set foot in Ukraine, throwing the French constitutional order into question.

In 2022, Le Pen also said she wanted to leave the military wing of NATO – but her party has since backtracked, saying that wouldn’t happen as long as the war in Ukraine is ongoing.

Macron’s party is already governing in the country’s lower house, the National Assembly, without a majority after its poorer-than-expected showing in the 2022 legislative elections, forcing it either to seek out coalitions to pass legislation, or use a constitutional tool to force through new laws.

But falling behind to either the left or right could be the death knell to his agenda. A loss would force Macron to nominate a prime minister from whichever party wins – putting a political opponent in charge of running the government.

Bardella has said that he would only govern if his party wins an absolute majority – and with the first round suggesting none of the parties will win those 289 necessary seats, there is no obvious prime minister in sight.

It could be a political deadlock in France for at least the next year – and a crisis for President Macron, arguably of his own making.

Source link : https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2024/07/01/europe/france-far-right-brink-of-power-what-next-intl

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Publish date : 2024-07-01 14:16:00

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Author : love-europe

Publish date : 2024-07-01 23:36:07

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