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France’s leftists take most seats, as snap election delivers deadlock | Elections News

France’s leftists take most seats, as snap election delivers deadlock | Elections News

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A loose alliance of left-wing parties has won the most seats in France’s high-stakes legislative elections, beating both the far right and President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist coalition.

No one group won an absolute majority in the 577-seat National Assembly in Sunday’s run-off vote, plunging France into political limbo with no clear path to forming a new government, two days before a major NATO summit and three weeks before the Paris Olympic Games.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said he would offer Macon his resignation on Monday but was ready to serve “as long as duty demands”, notably in light of the imminent Games.

“Our country is facing an unprecedented political situation and is preparing to welcome the world in a few weeks,” Attal said.

The New Popular Front (NFP) – formed last month after Macron called the snap elections – brought together the previously deeply-divided Socialists, Greens, Communists and the hard-left France Unbowed together in one camp.

The left-wing group took 177 seats, with Macron’s Ensemble winning 148 seats and Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) taking 142 seats.

France election

The result marks a new high-water mark for the far right, but falls well short of the victory National Rally had been hoping for after Macron called the snap election in what he said was a bid to halt France’s slide towards the political extremes.

Left-wing supporters gathered in Republique square in central Paris to celebrate the results, with people lighting flares, playing drums, and chanting “We’ve won! We’ve won!”

Firebrand leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the hard-left France Unbowed (LFI) and the controversial figurehead of the NFP coalition, demanded that the left be allowed to form a government.

“Its constituent parts, the united left, have shown themselves equal to the historic occasion and in their own way, have foiled the trap set for the country. In its own way, once again, it has saved the Republic.”

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

National Rally led the race after the June 30 first round, with opinion polls predicting it would be the biggest party in parliament after Sunday’s poll.

Macron’s office said late on Sunday that the French leader was taking note of the results.

“The President will ensure that the sovereign choice of the French people is respected,” it said in a statement.

Marine Le Pen, who is believed to be considering a fourth run for the presidency in 2027, said the outcome had laid the groundwork for “the victory of tomorrow”.

“The tide is rising. It did not rise high enough this time, but it continues to rise and, consequently, our victory has only been delayed,” Le Pen said.

‘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”.

“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.

Le Pen
Marine Le Pen gets ready before an interview with journalists after partial results in the second round of the parliamentary elections in Paris [Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters]

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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