France election: Far right hails lead and seeks majority (2024)

ByPaul Kirby,BBC News in Paris

France election: Far right hails lead and seeks majority (1)France election: Far right hails lead and seeks majority (2)REUTERS/Yves Herman

France’s far right is in pole position after the first round of parliamentary elections that confirmed their dominance in French politics and brought them to the gates of power.

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

RN won 33.1% of the vote, with a left-wing alliance behind on 28%, and the Macron camp behind on 20.76%.

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

Never before has the far right won the first round of a French parliamentary election. The simple fact that it has become possible is historic, says veteran commentator Alain Duhamel.

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

Seat projections for next Sunday’s second round run-off votes suggest they may fall short.

Without an absolute majority, France will have a hung parliament and RN will be unable to push through its plans for immigration, tax cuts and law and order.

There was no need for Emmanuel Macron to call this election, but after RN’s victory in European elections he said it was the “most responsible solution”.

It was a gamble that now threatens to turn the political order on its head, with 10.6 million French citizens voting for RN and some of the conservative Republicans who backed them.

Turnout at 66.7% was the highest for a parliamentary first round since 1997, reflecting the pivotal nature of a vote that came after a lightning-quick campaign of barely three weeks.

Already after the first round, 37 National Rally MPs have been elected by winning more than half the vote, while 32 have been elected for the left-wing New Popular Front.

Hundreds of left-wing voters gathered in Place de la République in Paris to voice their anger and shock at RN’s success.

President Macron left the talking to his prime minister, Gabriel Attal, but he did issue a statement, saying the time had come for a “broad, clearly democratic and republican alliance for the second round”.

While other leaders addressed cheering supporters, Mr Attal made a short, solemn address outside his residence at Hôtel Matignon.

France election: Far right hails lead and seeks majority (3)France election: Far right hails lead and seeks majority (4)Ludovic MARIN / AFP

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

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

LFI's political rivals say it is an extremist party, but it is the biggest of the left-wing groups that make up the New Popular Front, which finished within a few points of National Rally.

However, he agreed with the prime minister that not one more vote should got to RN.

Analysis: France's far right now dominant political force

It has been a long journey for the National Rally, from its roots on the extreme-right fringe of French society to securing the support of one in three French voters.

They have a charismatic young leader who could be France’s next prime minister, and a set of policies that range from banning mobile phones in classrooms and cutting taxes on energy to removing benefits from foreigners.

“People aren’t happy when there’s insecurity on the streets,” a voter called Patrick said in one of RN’s potential new strongholds east of Paris.

“Victory is in sight,” said Eric Ciotti, a conservative leader who split his Republican party and formed an alliance with National Rally that he called “unprecedented and historic”.

France has entered uncharted territory, says commentator Pierre Haski, and there are only bad outcomes. “That’s why a lot of people are angry with President Macron,” he told the BBC.

RN has a chance of an absolute majority, although the more likely outcome at this point may be a hung parliament with RN holding the biggest number of seats. The New Popular Front could also increase its share of the vote, buoyed by voters from other parties.

Next Sunday’s run-off round will feature either duels between two parties, or three-way races. There were only a handful in the last election, but the high turnout means that more than 300 third-placed candidates qualified for these “triangular” battles.

What will now be decided, largely on a local constituency level, is whether the third-placed candidate will drop out of the race to stop RN from winning the seat.

France election: Far right hails lead and seeks majority (5)France election: Far right hails lead and seeks majority (6)ARNAUD FINISTRE/AFP

Prime Minister Attal said that in “several hundred” constituencies, his party's candidates would be best placed to block the RN.

It was a moral duty to bar the far right from “governing the country with its disastrous project”, he said.

But many centrist candidates who came third are expected to step aside, if a Socialist, Greens or Communist rival has a better chance of beating RN.

On the whole they may refuse to give way to Mr Mélenchon’s party, although one Macron candidate who qualified in third place said she was standing down to allow LFI rival Francois Ruffin a better chance of victory.

“I draw a line between political rivals and enemies of the republic,” Albane Branlant said.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon said where his party's candidates were in third place and RN was in the lead, they too would withdraw.

In the words of Mr Macron’s Socialist predecessor and former boss, François Hollande: “We have an imperative duty to ensure that the far right cannot win a majority in the Assembly.”

French elections: How do they work and why are they so significant?



Emmanuel Macron

Marine Le Pen

France election: Far right hails lead and seeks majority (2024)


Who is the leader of the far-right in France? ›

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen looked to be nearer to power than ever last week after her National Rally party, strengthened by new allies, triumphed in the opening round of legislative elections.

What does "far right" mean in French politics? ›

In western Europe, far right parties have been associated with anti-immigrant policies, as well as opposition to globalism and European integration. They often make nationalist and xenophobic appeals which make allusions to ethnic nationalism rather than civic nationalism (or liberal nationalism).

Is liberal left or right in France? ›

In France, where the terms originated, the left has been called "the party of movement" or liberal, and the right "the party of order" or conservative.

Did the left or right win in France? ›

PARIS — A coalition of the French left won the most seats in high-stakes legislative elections Sunday, beating back a far-right surge but failing to win a majority.

What is the name of the right wing party in France? ›

The main French right-wing parties are currently the The Republicans (LR), National Rally (RN) and Movement for France (MPF).

What does far-right want in France? ›

It plans to boost police powers, slash immigration and curtail the rights of French citizens with dual nationality to work in some defense, security and nuclear-industry jobs, alarming critics and minorities.

What is the French expression to be right? ›

phrase. [person] avoir raison.

What is the far-left ideology? ›

Positions. Far-left groups support redistribution of income and wealth. They argue that capitalism and consumerism cause social inequality and advocate their dissolution. Some far-left groups also support the abolition of private property.

Is communism left or right? ›

As one of the main ideologies on the political spectrum, communism is placed on the left-wing alongside socialism, and communist parties and movements have been described as radical left or far-left.

Is the Socialist Party left or right in France? ›

Socialist Party (France)
Socialist Party Parti socialiste
Membership (2023)45,000
IdeologySocial democracy Pro-Europeanism
Political positionCentre-left to left-wing
National affiliationNew Popular Front (2024–present) New Ecological and Social People's Union (2022–2024)
24 more rows

When did France become liberal? ›

The early high points of liberalism in France were: 1790–1792: when Girondins and Feuillants dominated the early French Revolution; 1848: the French Revolution of 1848, which ended the Orléans monarchy (since 1830) and led to the creation of the French Second Republic.

What is the right-wing ideology? ›

Right-wing populism is a combination of civic-nationalism, cultural-nationalism and sometimes ethno-nationalism, localism, along with anti-elitism, using populist rhetoric to provide a critique of existing political institutions.

What's happening in France in 2024? ›

7 July: 2024 French legislative election (second round): No party wins a majority in the National Assembly, with the left-wing New Popular Front gaining a plurality of seats and the far-right National Rally coming in third place. Prime Minister Gabriel Attal announces that he will resign on July 8.

Who is the new leader of France? ›

President Emmanuel Macron called France's snap parliamentary election to “clarify” the political situation.

How many seats for majority France? ›

To win an outright majority, a party or coalition needs to secure at least 289 of the National Assembly's 577 seats.

Who is the current leadership in France? ›

Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron (French: [emanɥɛl makʁɔ̃]; born 21 December 1977) is a French politician who has been serving as the 25th president of France since 2017 and ex officio one of the two Co-Princes of Andorra.

Who is the supreme leader of France? ›

The current president is Emmanuel Macron, who succeeded François Hollande on 14 May 2017, and was inaugurated for a second term on 7 May 2022.

Does France have two leaders? ›

France has a semi-presidential system of government, with both a president and a prime minister.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Carlyn Walter

Last Updated:

Views: 5670

Rating: 5 / 5 (70 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Carlyn Walter

Birthday: 1996-01-03

Address: Suite 452 40815 Denyse Extensions, Sengermouth, OR 42374

Phone: +8501809515404

Job: Manufacturing Technician

Hobby: Table tennis, Archery, Vacation, Metal detecting, Yo-yoing, Crocheting, Creative writing

Introduction: My name is Carlyn Walter, I am a lively, glamorous, healthy, clean, powerful, calm, combative person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.