High voter turnout in France’s snap elections

French voters flocked to the polls on Sunday in the first round of a snap parliamentary election that could usher in the country’s first far-right government since World War Two.President Emmanuel Macron stunned the country when he called the vote after his centrist alliance was crushed in European elections this month by Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN). Her eurosceptic, anti-immigrant party was a longtime pariah but is now closer to power than it has ever been.

Polls opened at 0600 GMT and will close at 1600 GMT in small towns and cities, with an 1800 GMT finish in the bigger cities, when the first exit polls for the night and seat projections for the decisive second round a week later are expected.Participation was high, underlining how France’s rumbling political crisis has energized the electorate. By 1500 GMT, turnout was nearly 60%, compared with 39.42% two years ago – the highest comparable turnout figures since the 1986 legislative vote, Ipsos France’s research director Mathieu Gallard said.

ce’s electoral system can make it hard to estimate the precise distribution of seats in the 577-seat National Assembly, and the final outcome will not be known until the end of the second round of voting on July 7.”We are going to win an absolute majority,” Le Pen said in a newspaper interview on Wednesday, predicting that her protégé, 28-year-old Jordan Bardella, would be prime minister.

e has sought to detoxify a party known for racism and antisemitism, a tactic that has worked amid voter anger at Macron, the high cost of living and growing concerns over immigration.In Hénin-Beaumont, a town in Le Pen’s constituency in northern France where she may be re-elected in the first round, 67-year-old Denis Ledieu said people were suffering due to the long-term deindustrializaton of the region.”So if the (RN) promises them things, then why not? They want to try it out, I think,” he said.

In Garches, a small town near Paris, a woman screamed “It’s shameful, it’s shameful” as Bardella arrived to cast his vote.”They even invited the leftists,” he said.On the other side of Paris, in the town of Meaux, 51-year-old Mylène Diop said she had voted for the New Popular Front, a hastily assembled left-wing coalition polling in second. She said it was “the most important election” of her life.”The RN is at the gates of power and you see the aggressiveness of people and the racist speech that has been unleashed,” she said.

If the RN does win an absolute majority, French diplomacy could be headed for an unprecedented period of turbulence: with Macron – who has said he will continue his presidency until the end of his term in 2027 – and Bardella jostling for the right to speak for France.France has had three periods of “cohabitation” – when the president and government are from opposite political camps – in its post-war history, but none with such radically divergent world views competing at the top of the state.

rdella says he would challenge Macron on global issues. France could lurch from a pillar of the EU to a thorn in its side, demanding a rebate of its contribution to the EU budget, clashing with Brussels over European Commission jobs and reversing Macron’s calls for greater EU unity on defence.A clear RN victory would also bring uncertainty as to where France stands on the Russia-Ukraine war. Le Pen has a history of pro-Russian sentiment and while the party now says it would help Ukraine defend itself against Russian invaders, it has also set out red lines, such as refusing to provide long-range missiles.

Related Articles

Back to top button