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Left, Macron race to prevent far-right takeover

But most projections show the RN falling short of an absolute majority, even though the final outcome remains far from certain…reports Asian Lite News

Emmanuel Macron’s centrist camp and a left-wing alliance were on Monday battling to prevent the far right from taking an absolute majority and control of government in a historic first after the French president’s gamble on early parliamentary elections backfired.

The far-right National Rally (RN) party of Marine Le Pen won a resounding victory in the first round of the polls on Sunday, with Macron’s centrists trailing in third place behind the left-wing New Popular Front coalition.

Le Pen has asked voters to give her party an absolute majority during a second round of voting on July 7 so 28-year-old RN chief Jordan Bardella can become prime minister.

But most projections show the RN falling short of an absolute majority, even though the final outcome remains far from certain.

“The extreme right at the threshold of power,” read Monday’s headline in daily Le Monde.

Ahead of the second round, Macron’s camp has begun cooperating with the left-wing alliance in the hopes that tactical voting will prevent the RN winning the 289 seats needed for an absolute majority, which Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said would be “catastrophic”.

Third-place candidates who qualified for the second round have been urged to drop out to present a united front against the far-right.

Macron in a written statement on Sunday night urged a “broad” democratic coalition against the far right, which Bardella branded “a dishonourable alliance”. On Monday he convened a government meeting to decide a further course of action.

“Let’s not be mistaken. It’s the far right that’s on its way to the highest office, no one else,” he said at the meeting, according to one participant. “Not a single vote must go to the far right.”

He did not give any firm instructions to candidates over standing down, sources said. The emotion was palpable at the meeting, with three ministers dropping out of the race.

Analysts say that the most likely outcome of the snap election is a hung parliament that could lead to months of political paralysis and chaos.

The political crisis comes as Paris is preparing to host the Olympic Games this summer.

The RN garnered 33 percent of the vote on Sunday, compared to 28 percent for the left-wing New Popular Front alliance, and more than 20 percent for Macron’s centrist camp.

With a total of 76 candidates elected in the first round, the final composition of the 577-seat National Assembly will only be clear after the second phase.

The second round will see a three-way or two-way run-off in the remainder of the seats to be decided — although a tiny number of four-way run-offs are also possible.

The French stock market, which had been under considerable pressure in June amid the political uncertainty, rallied in early trading on hopes the RN would not win an absolute majority.

“The French election results have led to a sigh of relief from financial markets,” noted Kathleen Brooks, research director at XTB trading group.

The arrival of the anti-immigration RN in government would be a turning point in French modern history — the first time a far-right force has taken power in the country since World War II, when it was occupied by Nazi Germany.

If the RN takes an absolute majority and Bardella, who has no governing experience, becomes prime minister, this would create a tense period of “cohabitation” with Macron, who has vowed to serve out his term until 2027.

The election results fuelled fresh criticism of Macron’s decision to call the poll in the first place, a move he took with only a tight circle of advisers in the hours after his party was trounced by the RN in European elections last month.

The right-wing Le Figaro in its editorial said the country faced a “tragedy” with only “bad solutions” on offer.

The chaos risks damaging the international credibility of Macron, who is et to attend the NATO summit in Washington immediately after the second round.

State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said the United States expected “to continue our close cooperation with the French government” regardless of the election results.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the far-right success was a cause for concern, describing the RN as “a party that sees Europe as the problem and not the solution”.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said the results represented a “very dangerous” turn for France and Europe.

Russia, which the French government has repeatedly accused of seeking to interfere in domestic politics, is following the election results in France “very closely”, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

With elections looming on Thursday in the United Kingdom, where the left-wing Labour party is expected to end 14 years of right-wing Conservative rule, Labour leader Keir Starmer said the French polls were a lesson that “we need to address the everyday concerns of so many people”.

But far-right Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni hailed the results, saying attempts to “demonise” far-right voters were losing impact.

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