Elections in France today in tension: Le Pen’s party on track to become the country’s biggest political force / Polls, however, declare a parliament without a majority

The National Assembly (RN), Marine Le Pen’s far-right party, is headed for a historic result this Sunday in the second round of parliamentary elections that could make it the largest political group in the French parliament. The question is whether the RN will get the necessary majority to form a government, Reuters and AFP write. The first estimated results of the polls will appear immediately after the polls, at 20.00 local time (21.00, Romanian time).

The far-right, led by Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bartella, are hoping to win the second round of today’s French parliamentary election with a margin big enough for a majority – and a government that will implement their policies.

The eurosceptic and anti-immigration group won the first round of parliamentary elections with a third of the vote, setting the stage for the far-right to lead a French government for the first time since World War II.

But after a series of tactical retreats by mainstream parties designed to promote a candidate best placed to defeat the far-right, many polls predict a decline in the number of seats the RN could win.

It depends on the individual decision of the voters, who the parties insisted until the end: “Go and vote!”.

How Elections Work

In total, 577 seats are up for election in the French legislature, one for each seat in the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly.

According to official data, 76 MPs were elected in the first round last Sunday – 39 of them representing the RN and its allies – with 501 seats won in the second round.

Voting on Sunday ends at 20:00 (21:00 Roman time), when the first estimates from polling firms appear, based on the first part of results from polling stations closed the previous day.

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These are generally reliable.

The counting of votes is going on fast. However, if the result is close – for example, if the RN has an outright majority within a few seats – the final result will not be known until early Monday morning.

Who will win?

The RN won the first round with a third of the total votes cast. Polls predict the party will win more parliamentary seats, but its margin of victory is narrowing and it may fall short of a majority.

The New Popular Front (NFP), a coalition of leftist and centrist parties backing President Emmanuel Macron, withdrew more than 200 candidates from the runoff to boost the chances of front-runners against the RN in various constituencies.

Recent opinion polls conducted after the candidates withdrew suggest the strategy is working and a parliament without the far-right’s absolute majority is possible.

This decision will lead to huge political uncertainty.

Why should we care?

A key question is whether voters will heed the party’s call and support an anti-RN candidate in their constituency, or whether they will vote for or support the far right.

The RN and its allies need to win 289 seats to secure an absolute majority and be able to implement their anti-immigration and Eurosceptic agenda. In that scenario, the party said its leader, Jordan Bardella, would be the prime ministerial candidate.

In this scenario, Macron’s Prime Minister Gabriel Atal would resign immediately. Macron will name a new prime minister, who will then begin the process of forming a government. Macron has the right to veto an appointment if he thinks the person is not suitable for the role.

The RN has detailed its position on what it will do if it wins an absolute majority. Bartella initially said she would not lead an unstable minority government, but left the door open to courting other MPs if Marine Le Pen came close to a majority.

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What happens in Parliament without a majority?

Attal said the main right, left and center parties could form temporary alliances to vote on individual legislation in the new parliament, rather than trying to form a coalition government.

However, some left-wing politicians encouraged the idea of ​​forming a ruling coalition. Unlike Germany and many other European countries, France has never had a coalition government in its modern political history.

Either scenario could create political uncertainty and slow reforms.

What if there is no agreement?

None of the three groups – the far right, Macron’s centrist coalition or the left – is likely to gather enough parliamentary seats to govern alone, reach a coalition agreement or promise to lead a successful minority government.

In such a case, France would suffer political paralysis, with little or no legislation and an interim government to manage basic day-to-day affairs.

Could Macron step down?

So far, Macron has ruled out that possibility, but the alternative is a political deadlock that could make it more attractive to him. However, neither Parliament nor the government can compel a President to resign.

One thing is certain, the constitution says that fresh parliamentary elections cannot be held for another year, so an immediate re-poll is not an option.

RN Success

The RN’s victory comes against a backdrop of (and not only) French discontent with Emmanuel Macron’s government, stagnant incomes, deterioration of public services and last but not least rising prices linked to migration.

“The combination of economic insecurity and cultural fears is a strong cocktail,” explained Gilles Ivaldi, a professor and researcher at the prestigious University of Sciences Po, in an interview with HotNews.ro, for the support of the Marine Le Pen group.

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For decades, the National Front party, co-founded by Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, was seen as a danger to democracy, a group that promoted racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim views.

Politicians of the center and left have sought to remind voters of the party’s 52-year history, which in its early days recruited former members of the Waffen-SS military unit under the command of the Nazis during the Second World War. World War, writes The Guardian.

But the rebranded party has grown following Marine Le Pen’s aesthetic campaign, which has sought to normalize its policies and “demonicize” its image. The political right and sometimes the media have contributed to normalizing this image.

But the anti-immigration party retained its traditional doctrine of “France for the French” or “national priority,” which it renamed “national priority.”

This means that if the RN is in power, French nationals will have priority over foreign nationals in jobs, social benefits and housing.

The party has promised to ban dual nationals from certain strategic government jobs in France and to remove national rights for children born in France to foreign parents.

“Recent work, we’ve known this since the 1980s, shows that racism and xenophobic propositions are at the heart of why people vote for the RN,” explained Safia Tahani, PhD in Political Science, to HotNews.ro. A postgraduate researcher in sociology at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, he specializes in the contemporary legalization of the far right.

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