Tuesday, June 18, 2024

French president calls early elections after defeat in EU polls

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks through a screen at the far-right National Rally party headquarters after the polls closed during the EU elections, in Paris, France, June 9, 2024. — Reuters
  • President Macron acknowledges grim EU result.
  • RN wins about 32% of the vote in Sunday’s vote.
  • Macron’s current term runs until spring 2027. 

France’s President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday dissolved his government and called a snap parliamentary election after Marine Le Pen’s far-right party defeated him in the European Union vote, the Guardian reported.

This decision has caused significant political upheaval in France and has given the far-right a chance to gain real political power.

Macron, 46, has acknowledged the grim EU result and has called for lower house elections on June 30, with a second-round vote on July 7.

If Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) party wins a parliamentary majority, Macron would be left with little sway over domestic affairs.

“This is an essential time for clarification,” Macron said in an address to the nation. “I have heard your message, your concerns and I will not leave them unanswered … France needs a clear majority to act in serenity and harmony.”

Led by telegenic 28-year-old Jordan Bardella, the RN won about 32% of the vote in Sunday’s vote, more than double the Macron ticket’s 15%, according to exit polls. The Socialists came within a whisker of Macron, with 14%, Reuters reported.

Macron won re-election in 2022. His current term runs until spring 2027 and he cannot stand again.

Bardella was the first to urge Macron to call snap legislative elections, telling supporters after the projections were announced that French voters had “expressed a desire for change”. The country has “given its verdict and there is no appeal”, he said.

Le Pen, widely seen as the frontrunner for the 2027 election in which Macron is unable to stand, welcomed his decision.

“We are ready to take over power if the French give us their trust in the upcoming national elections,” she said at a rally.

Macron’s Renaissance party currently has 169 lower house lawmakers, out of a total of 577. The RN has 88.

If the RN wins a majority, Macron would still direct defence and foreign policy, but would lose the power to set the domestic agenda, from economic policy to security.

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