First Round of Voting Underway in France’s National Assembly Elections

The first round of voting in France’s National Assembly elections is currently taking place. The far-right National Rally (RN) is challenging President Macron’s centrist forces for control of the lower house. The voter turnout for the snap elections has been higher than expected, with 59.39% of eligible voters casting their ballots by 5 pm (1500 GMT) on Sunday, according to France’s Interior Ministry. This is almost 20 percentage points higher than the previous French general election in 2022. Approximately 49.3 million people are eligible to vote in the election.

The RN is leading in pre-election polling ahead of the newly established leftist alliance, the New Popular Front (NPF). Macron’s centrist camp, led by his Renaissance party, is currently in third place. Recent polls indicate that the RN and its allies are ahead with 36% to 36.5%, followed by the NPF with 29%. The first exit polls and projections on the election outcome are expected shortly after polls close.

The security forces in France have prepared for the possibility of unrest in major cities on the evening of the first round of voting. Macron, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, and RN leader Marine Le Pen were among the leading politicians who cast their votes on Sunday morning.

If the RN secures a majority in the 577-member National Assembly, Macron will be compelled to appoint a prime minister from its ranks to secure a stable Cabinet. Candidates securing an absolute majority in the first round are elected to the assembly, but in most constituencies, the victor will emerge only after the second round on July 7.

Forecasts suggest that the right-wing nationalists could become the strongest force in the National Assembly. However, it is unclear if they could secure an absolute majority due to local alliances formed between the two rounds of voting. Macron’s centrist camp is likely to lose seats, which would have significant consequences. The National Assembly is involved in legislation and can topple the government with a vote of no confidence.

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