Far Right Leader Blames Rivals’ Alliances for French Vote Result

(Bloomberg) -- Jordan Bardella is crying foul about political opponents ganging up against his far-right party.

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With a left-wing alliance on course to win the most seats in France’s legislative election, the president of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally blamed expedient coalitions of rivals for keeping his group out of power.

“Voting arrangements orchestrated from the Elysee palace by an isolated president and an incendiary left won’t lead anywhere,” Bardella said on Sunday after the results showed the National Rally on track to come third, according to early projections.

Le Pen’s party had won the biggest share in the first round of voting on June 30. Shaken by the prospect of the far right taking control of the government, several rival parties that have been at each other’s throats for years swallowed their animosity and came up with a largely unified electoral front in order to see off the threat.

Those tactics worked. A poll of voters by OpinionWay showed that 67% of respondents backed a candidate they actually wanted, while 30% used the ballot box to block someone they didn’t favor.

Bardella, Le Pen’s 28-year-old political heir, would likely have become prime minister if his party had won an absolute majority. Although it came nowhere near that, the group seems to be on track for the biggest number of seats it has ever won.

According to early projections, Le Pen’s National Rally, which pollsters last week had seen having the most number of lawmakers in the lower house of parliament, is likely to get between 113 and 152 seats.

“Despite a second-round campaign that’s been marked by unnatural political alliances, intended to prevent by all means the French people from choosing a different political way for themselves, the National Rally has today achieved the greatest breakthrough in its entire history,” Bardella said.

Le Pen has for several years tried to bring her party into the political mainstrean by distancing it from its founder, her controversial father Jean-Marie Le Pen, who is known for his antisemitic views.

By not carrying the family’s name, Bardella — made party president in November 2022 — has helped Le Pen’s push for legitimacy, putting even more distance between the party and its past.

The National Rally has softened its stance on some social issues, like LGBTQ rights and abortion, under Le Pen. But it still advocates France-first policies, and at the heart of its domestic agenda are measures to drastically toughen immigration and strengthen the rights of nationals over non-nationals, in everything from housing to employment.

On Sunday, Le Pen sought to look on the bright side, pointing out that the National Rally is the party with the single largest number of seats, calling it a springboard for future victories.

“The tide is rising,” she said. “It hasn’t risen high enough this time, but it’s still rising.”

--With assistance from James Regan.

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