France’s far right suffers surprise blow as voters rally to block it from power

France was braced for a far-right victory after Marine Le Pen's National Rally party surged ahead in the first round of snap legislative elections. But the second round delivered a setback to the party as centrist and leftist candidates made tactical deals in three-way races and voters turned out in force to defeat the far right.

The champagne was on ice at the far-right National Rally's (RN) headquarters, but the celebratory mood swiftly turned to disbelief when the first projected results from Sunday's parliamentary election appeared on TV screens.

For days, Marine Le Pen had confidently predicted that her party would triumph with an outright majority and her protégé Jordan Bardella would be prime minister. Instead, the National Rally was on course to come third, behind a left-wing alliance and President Emmanuel Macron's centrist bloc.

It was undone to a large extent by tactical dealmaking between centrist and leftist opponents, who pulled more than 200 candidates from three-way races to avoid splitting the anti-RN vote.

To be sure, Le Pen and her party have suffered disappointment before, most recently her 2022 defeat to Macron in the presidential election and have managed to bounce back more strongly than before.

But for now, the outcome was a bitter pill to swallow.

Yet despite the party's fighting talk, Sunday's outcome was a clear setback.

Read more on FRANCE 24 English

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