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National Rally fails to win French election and will come third, exit polls show

Marine Le Pen’s far-right party National Rally (RN) party has failed to win the French election and had come third behind winner New Popular Front (NPF), exit polls have shown.

Left-wing coalition NPF has been tipped to take between 172-215 seats, while Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance Ensemble is expected to come second and receive around 150-175 seats.

The results mean no party has an absolute majority of 289 seats and France is on course for a hung parliament.

If was previously predicted that Ms Le Pen’s party would become the largest party in the National Assembly and the most powerful force in French politics for the first time.

The predictions come after the first round of voting was dominated by the nationalist, anti-immigrant RN, which won 33 per cent of the vote.

Final results are not expected until late Sunday or early Monday in the highly volatile snap election, which was called just four weeks ago in a huge gamble for Macron.

After the first round of results were published, left-wing and centrist parties stood down candidates in some constituencies where votes could be split in the second round of polls.

(FILES) (FILES) French far-right party Rassemblement National's (RN) presidential candidate Marine Le Pen poses during a photo session in Paris on October 20, 2021. France began a frantically short election campaign on June 17, 2024, with President Emmanuel Macron's centrist alliance facing an uphill struggle to avoid a new defeat at the hands of the far right. Macron called the snap parliamentary polls three years early in a dramatic gamble to shake up politics in France after the far right trounced his centrists in EU elections. The first round of the election will take place on June 30, 2024, and the second round on July 7, 2024. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP) (Photo by JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images)
National Rally’s Marine Le Pen (Photo: JOEL SAGET / AFP)

The French parliamentary elections were a victory for the left-wing NFP and must thus unite the majority of French people, French socialist leader Olivier Faure said after the party’s unexpected win.

“We will have just one compass: the program of the New Popular Front,” Faure told supporters, adding French President Emmanuel Macron’s policy must not be continued and that his contested pension reform must be cancelled.

Speaking after the poll results came today NR’s president, Jordan Bardella, who was hoping to be France’s next prime minister, said a “unnatural” and “dishonourable alliance” “deprived the French people” of a victory for the victory.

He said: “Tonight, these alliances throw France into the arms of the far left of Jean-Luc Mélenchon.”

Emmanuel Macron called a snap election for the 577-seat National Assembly, France’s lower and more prominent house of parliament, less than a month ago.

In the first round, NFP, an alliance of centre-left and left-wing parties, came second with nearly 28 per cent of the vote, while Mr Macron’s party and its allies came in third with just 21 per cent.

Some 76 of the seats were won outright, around half by the National Rally, but the remaining 501 entered Sunday’s second round run-offs.

Before the result were published, in Belleville, a traditionally working class district in eastern Paris, residents said they were shocked that so many had voted for a far right party.

“It’s unthinkable to think so many people have voted for the RN,” said Dominique Genet, 70. “To vote for RN is to be fascist. I hope France wakes up from this.”

Louise, 39, who wished to withhold her surname, could not vote on Sunday because the NFP already won her constituency in the first round. She feared the impact the far right could have across Europe on issues such as Russia’s invasions of Ukraine.

“We have to make a democratic movement, and to block the far right,” she said.

Fabio Godefrey, 25, was still unsure of who he would vote for. “I’m very against the RN,” he said. “But it’s nonsense what Macron has done.”

The results are likely to be affected by tactical withdrawals of candidates by the left and Mr Macron’s centrist coalition, to block the far right and avoid splitting the vote – in a French political tradition known as the “Republican Front”.

More than 300 constituencies were three-way races until over 200 candidates dropped out this week.

Several French pollsters in recent days have projected the far-right to win between 175 and 240 seats, which would be short of an absolute majority but could possibly leave the door open to deals being done for it to take control of government.

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