France: Macron gambles on snap election after losing EU referendum to French far-right


France’s President Emmanuel Macron dissolved the country’s parliament, the National Assembly, and called a snap election after an exit poll showed his Renaissance Party would be defeated by the far-right opposition in European parliamentary elections on Sunday.

After initial projections, the far-right National Rally (RN) party came out on top with 31.5% of the vote, more than double the share of Revival, which relegated the Socialists to second place with 15.2% of the vote. It is in third place with 14.3% votes.

In a celebratory speech after the release of the exit poll, RN leader Jordan Bartella called on Macron to dissolve the French parliament, calling the gap between the two parties a “serious repudiation” for the president.

“This unprecedented defeat for the current government marks the end of a cycle and the 1st day of the post-Macron era,” Bartella told a cheering audience at RN’s headquarters.

Less than an hour later, Macron gave a national address announcing that he would dissolve the French parliament and hold parliamentary elections. Macron said the first round would take place on June 30 and the second on July 7.

“I have decided to give you back your parliamentary future by voting. So I am dissolving the National Assembly this evening,” Macron said in a shock announcement.

“This decision is serious, heavy. But it is, above all, an act of faith. Believe in yourself, my dear friends. In the capacity of the people of France to make a more just decision,” the French president added.

By Stephen Lemoud/SIPA/AP

Macron and first lady Brigitte Macron at Dougette polling station for the European elections on June 9, 2024.

Under the French system, parliamentary elections are held to elect the 577 members of the lower house, the National Assembly. Separate elections are held to choose the country’s president, which are not scheduled again until 2027.

In the last set of parliamentary elections in 2022, a coalition including Macron’s Renaissance Party did not win an overall majority.

Speaking after Macron’s announcement, Marine Le Pen – who ran unsuccessfully against Macron for the French presidency in 2017 and 2022, but whose RN party has resurged in the polls – said she welcomed his decision to hold the election.

“We are ready to take power if the French put their trust in us,” said Le Pen, now the RN’s parliamentary leader.

“We are ready to rebuild the country, ready to protect the interests of the French, ready to put an end to mass immigration, ready to prioritize the purchasing power of the French, ready to start the reindustrialization of the country,” he said. said.

Since the start of his second term in 2022, Macron has ruled with a relative majority, forcing him to repeatedly invoke Article 49.3 of the French constitution – pushing legislation through parliament without a referendum, much to the chagrin of opposition lawmakers. French citizens.

The last time a French president dissolved parliament was in 1997, which led to Jacques Chirac losing his majority and bringing the Socialists to power under Lionel Joseph.

An Elysée source close to Macron, who asked to remain anonymous, told CNN that the predicted results show a “republican majority” in France “by those who disagree with the views of the extreme right.”

“We should never be afraid of the French people,” said the source. “Confirm, believe, believe – that’s what gets a presidential majority.”

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