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Parties start new campaigns in France after far-right election success

After France’s National Rally (RN)’s recent electoral gains, other political parties have now launched a fresh campaign for the final vote. 

The anti-immigration party garnered one-third of the votes in the first round of parliamentary elections and is now aiming for an outright majority.

Jordan Bardella, the RN leader who aspires to be France’s next Prime Minister, urged voters to choose between what he called a left-wing alliance posing “an existential threat to the French nation” and a patriotic party ready to take decisive action. 

To gain an absolute majority in the National Assembly, RN needs 289 out of 577 seats to advance its agenda on immigration, law enforcement, and tax reductions.

The party plans to limit social welfare to French citizens, revoke the automatic right to citizenship for children born in France to immigrant parents, and bar 3.5 million dual citizens from sensitive strategic roles.

Currently, RN and its allies have secured 38 seats outright with over 50% of the local vote in the first round. The Popular Front holds 32 seats, while Macron’s alliance has only two, highlighting the governing party’s decline. With 501 seats still undecided, crucial decisions loom for the three major blocs within the next 24 hours.

Despite calling the election that plunged France into a political crisis, President Emmanuel Macron remains in office with three years left in his term and has pledged not to resign. 

However, the centrist movement he founded finished third in the first round, overshadowed by both the left-wing New Popular Front and the National Rally led by Marine Le Pen and Bardella.

Candidates qualified for the second round from Macron’s camp or the Popular Front must decide by 18:00 on Tuesday whether to withdraw to boost a political rival’s chances against RN. Both the Popular Front and Macron’s Ensemble coalition have urged voters to reject the far right.

This election is notable for its unprecedented number of three-candidate run-offs in over 300 local races. Sunday’s turnout of 66.7%, the highest since 1997, resulted in more candidates qualifying for the second round than ever before. 

By Monday afternoon, numerous third-place candidates from Ensemble and the Popular Front had withdrawn from the race, as reported by Le Monde.

RN’s key figure, Sébastien Chenu, expressed confidence that even if the party falls short of 289 seats, it will “find supporters” in the new National Assembly. He suggested there might be MPs interested in preventing legislative gridlock, adding, “We will assume our responsibilities before the French people” if given the chance.

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