French nationalist leader Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (French: Rassemblement National) (RN) party made a historic breakthrough in the parliament elections, winning around 90 seats. This time, Le Pen’s party will send 89 MPs to the new parliament. The RN had just eight MPs in the previous parliament. With the huge electoral gains, the RN has become the biggest rightwing force in parliament, leaving behind the traditional right, The Republicans (LR).
French voters have denied the re-elected President Emmanuel Macron an absolute majority as the newly formed left-wing alliance government has gained the majority. Le Pen has been now re-elected as MP in her stronghold of Hénin-Beaumont, in northern France. She had lost to Macron in the recently held presidential election.
Speaking to the media, Le Pen said, “The Macron adventure has reached its end.” The group of National Rally lawmakers “will be by far the biggest of the history of our political family.”
Acting National Rally president Jordan Bardella compared his party’s showing to a “tsunami.” “Tonight’s message is that the French people made from Emmanuel Macron a minority president,” he said on TF1 television.
Who is Marine Le Pen?
Marion Anne Perrine “Marine” Le Pen is a 53-year-old French lawyer and politician who ran for the French presidency in 2012, 2017, and 2022. She is the youngest daughter of former party leader Jean-Marie Le Pen and the aunt of former FN MP Marion Maréchal. A member of the National Rally (RN; previously the National Front, FN), she served as its president from 2011 to 2021. She has been a member of the National Assembly for the 11th constituency of Pas-de-Calais since 2017. Le Pen has been placed as far-right on the political spectrum.
During the presidential election campaign in April, Marine Le Pen had vowed to ban Muslim women from wearing a headscarf in public if she won the election. She described the veil as ‘a uniform imposed by Islamists’. ‘I’m telling it in a very clear manner: I think the headscarf is a uniform imposed by Islamists,’ Le Pen said.
‘I think a great proportion of young women who are wearing it have no other choice in reality,’ she added.
Le Pen and the RN advocate a tough line on immigration, believing that multiculturalism has failed, and argue for the “de-Islamisation” of French society. Le Pen has called for a moratorium on legal immigration. She would repeal laws allowing illegal immigrants to become legal residents and has argued that benefits provided to immigrants be reduced to remove incentives for new immigrants. Following the beginning of the Arab Spring and the European migrant crisis, she called for France to withdraw from the Schengen Area and reinstate border controls. She also supports restrictions on ritual slaughter and circumcision.
Emmanuel Macron becomes a minority president
The result announced in the early hours of Monday threw French politics into turmoil and raised the question of the legislation and messy coalition.
Earlier, Macron’s centrist alliance, Ensemble (Together), was ahead of the New Popular Environmentalist and Social Union (Nupes) of Jean-Luc Melenchon in the second round of parliamentary elections in France, according to CNN citing the results released by the Interior Ministry.
According to the result, Marcon secured 245 out of a total 577; however, it still fell short of the 289-seat threshold for an absolute majority in the National Assembly, France’s lower house.
NUPES came in second with 131 seats and became the main opposition in force in the country, though the coalition is expected to be divided on some issues once in parliament, according to the interior ministry’s results.
“The collapse of the presidential party is total, and no majority is presented,” Melenchon said earlier in the evening, remarking on preliminary results.
“We have achieved the political objective that we had set ourselves, in less than a month, to bring down the one who, with such arrogance, had twisted the arm of the whole country, who had been elected without knowing what for,” he added.
After the new result, Macron became the first sitting French president to not win a parliamentary majority since a 2000 electoral reform.
“This is an unprecedented situation,” said French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, referring to the new “configuration” of power among rival parties resulting from the vote. “Never before has the National Assembly experienced such a configuration under the Fifth Republic,” she added.
“As of tomorrow, we will work on building an action-oriented majority, there is no alternative to that coalition to guarantee our country stability and enact the necessary reforms,” the French PM said.
(With inputs from ANI and international agencies)