France: Blow for Le Pen as voters give leftists most seats over far right

NEW DELHI: France is on course for a hung assembly as the exit polls on Sunday predicted leftist alliance unexpectedly securing the top spot ahead of the far-right, effectively preventing Marine Le Pen‘s National Rally from forming the government.
According to exit poll results based on early results from a sample of polling stations, which are generally reliable, the New Popular Front, a coalition of the hard left, Socialists, and Greens, who have historically been at odds, is expected to win between 172 and 215 out of 577 seats.
The announcement of the estimates was met with cries of joy and tears of relief at the leftist alliance’s gathering in Paris, while activists at the Greens’ office screamed in joy and embraced each other. In contrast, the far-right party headquarters was marked by stunned silence, clenched jaws, and tears, as young National Rally (RN) members checked their phones in disbelief.
The result is a humiliating blow for Macron, whose centrist alliance, which he founded to support his first presidential run in 2017, is projected to narrowly come in second, winning 150-180 seats. It is also a significant disappointment for Marine Le Pen’s nationalist, eurosceptic National Rally, which had been projected to win the election for weeks but is now expected to secure only 115 to 155 seats.
Meanwhile, French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal also offered to submit his resignation to President Emmanuel Macron on Monday morning, adding that he will continue to carry out his functions as long as required.
The political uncertainty in the country comes ahead of the Paris Olympics which are set to open in less than three weeks, and the country will be grappling with domestic instability when the eyes of the world are upon it.
Unlike other countries in Europe that are more accustomed to coalition governments, France doesn’t have a tradition of lawmakers from rival political camps coming together to form a working majority.
The timing of France’s leap into the political unknown could hardly be worse: With the Paris Olympics opening in less than three weeks, the country will be grappling with domestic instability when the eyes of the world are upon it.


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