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France exit polls show left-wing alliance in lead, far right in third place | Elections News

France exit polls show left-wing alliance in lead, far right in third place | Elections News

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Loose alliance of French left-wing parties on course to become the biggest parliamentary bloc and beat the far right, according to projections.

A loose alliance of French left-wing parties thrown together for snap elections is on course to become the biggest parliamentary bloc and beat the far right, according to projected poll results.

The New Popular Front (NFP) was formed last month after President Emmanuel Macron called snap elections, bringing together socialists, greens, communists and the hard left into one camp.

Veteran presidential candidate Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) led the race after the June 30 first round, with opinion polls predicting that she would lead the biggest party in the French Parliament after Sunday’s run-off election.

But projections based on vote samples by four major polling agencies and seen by AFP news agency on Sunday showed no group on course for an absolute majority, and the left-wing NFP ahead of both Macron’s centrist Ensemble and Le Pen’s Eurosceptic, anti-immigration RN.

The left-wing group was predicted to take between 172 and 215 seats, with the president’s alliance taking 150 to 180 and the National Rally – which had hoped for an absolute majority – in a surprise third place with 115 to 155 seats.

This marks a new high-water mark for the far right, but falls well short of a victory that would have been a rebuke for Macron, who called the snap election in what he said was a bid to halt France’s slide towards the political extremes.

Hard-left France Unbowed leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, giving his first reaction, called on French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal to resign and said the left-wing coalition was ready to govern.

France election
Supporters of French far-left opposition party La France Insoumise (France Unbowed – LFI) react after partial results in the second round of French parliamentary elections in Paris [Yara Nardi/Reuters]

Macron will attend next week’s landmark NATO summit in Washington, DC as a diminished but not defeated figure, and France has been left without a stable ruling majority less than three weeks before Paris hosts the Olympic Games.

‘Taken off guard’

Al Jazeera’s Natacha Butler, reporting from Paris, said people were “all taken off guard when the [exit polls] results came through”.

“These are just exit polls. For people here at the RN headquarters, this is a huge blow,” she said. “Le Pen had wanted to be the president of France for so long … She has been beaten once again.”

The election campaign, the shortest in French history, was marked by threats and violence – including racist abuse – against dozens of candidates and canvassers. Some 30,000 police were deployed to keep order, and many voters expressed fears that rioting could erupt in some cities after the results were announced.

Turnout was nevertheless high, with left-wing and centrist candidates urging supporters to defend democratic values and the rule of law while the far right scented a chance to upend the established order.

By 5pm (15:00 GMT), according to figures from the Ministry of the Interior, some 61.4 percent of voters had turned out – the most at this stage of a legislative race since 1981.

Rim-Sarah Alouane, a researcher at the University Toulouse-Capitole, told Al Jazeera that France has “avoided the worst tonight, that’s for sure”.

“There was a massive vote from people who I think simply realised how dangerous it was with the far right coming to power,” she said.

“But we should still be concerned that we were in that situation in the first place.”

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