France’s far right and coalition of leftist parties rose as President Emmanuel Macron lost his coveted majority in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, a loss that could shape the country’s politics for years to come.
Early forecasts by many polling firms put Macron’s Le Republique en Marche to win just 230 seats, beating all other parties and coalitions, but it is a far cry from the 289 seats needed for an absolute majority and well below the 350 seats his centrist political brand won. . She joined her camp in 2017.
The New Ecological and Social Popular Union, a hastily assembled coalition of left-wing, far-left and green political parties assembled by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, came in second with a projected 149 seats. The fiery Melenchon was victorious, criticizing Macron.
After the results began to emerge, he said: “It is an absolutely unexpected situation, that no one has ever heard of, the defeat of the presidential party is complete. They wanted to avoid defeat at the expense of shame. Tonight they have defeat and shame.”
But it was Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party that scored the biggest wins in the election, winning about 85 seats, or 15 percent of the 577-seat National Assembly, a major turnaround in fortunes since 2017, when she managed to win. Only eight seats. It was the best performer for the French far-right movement founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen’s father since it was founded four decades ago.
“The national rally number is something no one expected,” Lea Champoncel, a French political journalist and radio broadcaster, said in an interview. “It’s a bad surprise, a very bad surprise.”
The traditional center-right came fourth with a projected 76 seats, down from 130 in 2017. The home secretary is still calculating the final numbers.
Sunday’s parliamentary elections may have little direct or immediate impact outside France. Macron defeated Le Pen to win a second five-year term in April. Questions of foreign policy, national security, and European affairs remain deeply rooted in the purview of the presidency, with parliament playing a much smaller role than it does in other Western democracies.
But to lure independent lawmakers in other camps and bring the majority together on domestic matters, Macron may have to drop hot issues that have an impact abroad, such as military support for Ukraine, trade negotiations with the United Kingdom or EU enlargement.
Although French voters from the left and the right banded together to vote for Macron to defeat Le Pen in April, Sunday’s election carried some troubling messages for the president and his centrist allies.
“It’s a far cry from what we had hoped for,” Public Accounts Minister Gabriel Attal said in an interview with BFMTV.
Among those who lost their seats was Amelie de Montchalin, Macron’s environmental transformation minister, who was defeated by leftist Jerome Guedge in Essonne, an electoral district 48 kilometers south of Paris. Christophe Castaner, the former interior minister under Macron, was also beaten up by a left-wing candidate.
“Voters are unhappy with Macron, that’s for sure,” said Champoncel, author of a book that advocates for more women in politics. “It was a midterm election for him and he lost.”
Mr. Melenchon has succeeded in reviving the fortunes of the long-dead French left to attract a new generation of young voters and candidates to the scene – many of them women and from marginalized immigrant backgrounds. But despite being elated by Macron’s performance, the left also experienced some comforting moments. Fabian Roussel, a prominent leftist, barely won a victory over the far-right candidate in a northern constituency along the Belgian border.
Le Pen reinvented her father’s political movement to make it more palatable to center-right voters. But it remains deeply anti-immigrant and anti-EU. It is also financially beholden to banks linked to the Kremlin.
The size of Ms. Le Pen’s parliamentary bloc exceeds a number of legislative obstacles that will allow her, for example, to introduce control measures and bring matters before the Constitutional Court.
Ms Le Pen, beaming with joy amid a crowd of supporters after winning her seat in the second round, promised to make changes.
“The new faces you are about to discover are the vanguard of this political elite who will take charge of the country when Macron’s adventure is over,” she said to applause and cheers. “We will continue to work to bring the French people together in a great popular movement.”