France awakens to a newly resurgent far-right

By Sylvie Corbet and Barbara Surk | Associated Press

PARIS — France awakened to an ecstatic Marine Le Pen on Monday after her party’s far-right candidates for parliament sent shockwaves through the political establishment and helped deny President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance an absolute majority.

Le Pen’s National Rally party didn’t win the two rounds of voting in the parliamentary election, which ended Sunday. But it secured more than 10 times the seats it won five years ago.

It was only a couple of months ago that Le Pen lost the presidential election to Macron. But now it was her turn to gloat, since she knows she can use the seats in the National Assembly to thwart Macron’s domestic agenda and even trigger a no-confidence vote.

And she beamed with pride, calling the outcome a “historic victory” and a “seismic event” in French politics.

Many voters opted for her far-right party or for leftist candidates, leaving Macron’s alliance significantly weakened despite having the most seats.

Le Pen’s National Rally got 89 seats in the 577-member parliament, up from a previous total of eight. On the other side of the political spectrum, the leftist Nupes coalition, led by hardliner Jean-Luc Mélenchon, won 131 seats to become the main opposition force.

Macron’s alliance Together! won 245 seats — but fell 44 seats short of a straight majority in the National Assembly, France’s most powerful house of parliament.

The outcome of the legislative election is highly unusual in France and the strong performance of both Le Pen’s National Rally and Mélenchon’s coalition — composed of his own hard-left party, France Unbowed, the Socialists, Greens and Communists — will make it harder for Macron to implement the agenda he was reelected on in May, including tax cuts and raising France’s retirement age from 62 to 65.

“Macron is a minority president now. (…) His retirement reform plan is buried,” a beaming Le Pen declared on Monday in Hénin-Beaumont, her stronghold in northern France, where she was reelected for another five-year term in the parliament.

She told reporters: “We are entering the parliament as a very strong group and as such we will claim every post that belongs to us.” As the biggest single opposition party in the parliament — Mélenchon leads a coalition — she said the National Rally will seek to chair the parliament’s powerful finance committee.

The National Rally, previously known as the National Front, has been a political force in France for decades. But the two-round voting system had until now prevented it to do big scores in the parliamentary elections.

Political analyst Brice Teinturier, deputy director-general of Ipsos polling institute, said on France Inter radio that Sunday’s result “means that the National Rally is ‘institutionalizing’ itself.” The strategy through which all other political forces used to join together to defeat the far-right in the decisive round doesn’t work anymore, he said.

Le Pen lost to Macron in April with 41.5% of the votes against 58.5% — her highest-ever level of support in her three attempts to become France’s leader.

Since taking over the party …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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