France Election Shocker: Left Bloc Takes Lead, but No Party Wins Majority

A snap legislative election called in France by President Emmanuel Macron has led to a hung parliament, as a left-center coalition blocked Marine Le Pen’s far-right party from seizing the most seats in Paris — but has left the country without any party holding anywhere near an absolute majority in a country without a tradition of forming a coalition government.

According to exit polls from France24, the New Popular Front, a coalition of left-wing parties led by the France Unbowed (La France Insoumise) party, will earn 177-192 seats in Parliament, up from their current count of 131. Macron’s centrist coalition, Together (Ensemble), had 249 seats going into this election and loses nearly a hundred seats, set to fall to 152-158 seats.

The far-right National Rally, led by Le Pen, will gain at least 40 seats, but is now expected to have the third highest total with 138-145 seats. This comes after it led all parties in the first round of voting. The party has gained power in rural areas on a hardline anti-immigrant platform amid a surge of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa.

Following that first round, the New Popular Front and Together — the latter led by Prime Minister Gabriel Attal — made a push to urge their respective candidates, who finished third in the first round of voting, to drop out to consolidate votes against National Rally candidates.

The effort seems to have paid off, as the NR has earned fewer seats than predicted. The country saw a reported voter turnout rate of 67%, the highest seen since 1997.

But the results also leave deep uncertainty for France’s political and economic future as all the coalitions are well short of the 289 seats needed for an absolute majority. Unlike other countries with parliamentary governments like Canada and the United Kingdom, France’s parties do not traditionally form coalition governments. While France’s left and center formed a tactical voting truce to prevent a far-right majority, they remain starkly divided on a wide range of domestic policies.

Macron called the snap elections on June 9 after his party was trounced in European Union elections, shocking much of the country. His attempt to solidify his coalition in the wake of the EU elections looks to have seriously backfired, despite the National Rally party being left in third.

With Attal publicly offering to resign as prime minister following the Together party’s fall to second place, New Popular Front leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon called on Macron to appoint the next PM from his coalition. The leftist leader has called for a substantial increase in the national minimum wage as well as a repeal of Macron’s controversial pension reforms, though how far those policies will get in a hung parliament is unclear.

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