National Rally Dominates First Round of French Legislative Elections

In the first round of legislative elections in France, the far-right National Rally party emerged as the dominant force, receiving approximately 30% of the votes compared to President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance, which secured around 20%. This data was revealed by a survey conducted by Ipsos-Talan for France Télévisions and Radio France. The left-wing New Popular Front currently holds the second position. Runoff elections are scheduled for July 7.

The potential perspective of a far-right government has raised concerns, with attention focused on President Macron and his willingness to cooperate with the National Rally. Macron has previously warned that such cooperation would have a detrimental impact on France.

French cities are preparing for potential violence as store owners have taken precautions by barricading their doors and windows and closing early. This action is in anticipation of protests, as reported by Toulouse-based newspaper Le Dépêche du Midi. Many business owners fear a repeat of the looting that occurred in 2023 during national protests against pension reform. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire expressed his concerns about the potential impact on order, citizen relations, serenity, and civil peace, stating that he does not view the National Rally as a factor of stability and peace but rather as a factor of disorder and violence.

While the National Rally has attempted to distance itself from past rhetoric inciting violence against certain groups, French authorities are worried that a victory for the party could embolden individuals to engage in violent acts.

The high voter turnout in the first round of elections could have a significant influence on the final outcome. Bloomberg reported that nearly 70% of eligible voters had cast their vote by 5 pm local time, marking the highest turnout in almost four decades for a first-round vote. This turnout is approximately 20 percentage points higher than that of the first round of the 2022 elections. The increased number of three-person races in some districts during the runoff vote on July 7 could potentially lead to one candidate dropping out to consolidate unity around a single anti-National Rally candidate, which could benefit Macron and his allies.

As the National Rally’s victory in the most seats in parliament becomes more likely, attention is focused on Macron and his willingness to cooperate with a faction of French politicians he has previously attempted to isolate. Reports suggest that Macron is considering calling for new elections in the summer of 2025 if the far-right party wins. Jordan Bardella, the parliamentary leader for the National Rally and a potential favorite for the prime ministerial position, is reportedly working on presenting a more diplomatic image to appeal to centrist voters.

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