PARIS (AP) – Right-wing leader Marine Le Pen said on Monday his party’s extraordinary jump in the country’s parliamentary election was a “historic victory” and a “seismic event” in French politics.
Sunday’s vote saw many voters opt for far-right or far-left candidates, denying President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist coalition a direct majority in the National Assembly.
Le Pen’s national tally won 89 seats in the 577-member parliament, up from the previous total of eight. On the other side of the political spectrum, the leftist Noops coalition led by the radical Jean-Luc Mélenchon won 131 seats to become the main opposition party.
Macron’s centrist alliance together! Won the most seats – 245 – but fell short of a direct majority in the National Assembly, the most powerful house of France’s parliament, 44 seats.
The outcome of the legislative election is highly unusual in France and the strong performance of both Le Pen’s national rally and Mélancheon’s coalition – his own hard-left party, France Unbod, made up of Socialists, Greens and Communists – would make it difficult for Macron. He was re-elected in May to implement an agenda that includes tax cuts and raising France’s retirement age from 62 to 65.
“Macron is now a minority president. (…) his retirement reform plan has been buried,” a beaming Le Pen declared on Monday in his stronghold of Henin-Beaumont in northern France, where he is expected to receive another vote in parliament. Was re-elected for a five-year term. “This is a historic victory (…) a seismic event.”
She told reporters: “We are entering parliament as a very strong group and thus we will claim every position that belongs to us.” As the largest single party in parliament – Macron and Mélenchon both major coalitions – he said the national rally would seek to chair the parliament’s powerful Finance Committee, one of eight commissions overseeing the national budget.
Le Pen’s far-right party now has a sufficient number of legislators to form a formal group in the National Assembly and request seats on the Committee of Parliamentary Inquiry and other committees focusing on defense and foreign policy.
In addition, the National Rally Party now has enough seats – more than 58 – to launch a censure motion against the government that could lead to a no-confidence vote.
Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne suggested on Sunday evening that Macron’s coalition would seek “good agreement” with lawmakers from various political forces.
Macron has yet to comment on the election results.
His government would still have the ability to govern, but only by bargaining with legislators. The opposition may seek to hold talks on a case-by-case basis with lawmakers from the centre-left and the Conservative party, with the goal of preventing lawmakers from being in sufficient numbers to reject the proposed measures.
The government may also sometimes use a special measure provided for by the French Constitution to adopt laws without a vote.
A similar situation occurred in 1988 under socialist President François Mitterrand, who then had to seek support from communists or centrists to pass legislation.
The latest parliamentary election is once again defined by massive voter apathy – with more than half the electorate staying home.
“I don’t even know who was running,” said 20-year-old medical student Lucie Gault in Paris. He was not interested in campaigning and did not vote on Sunday.
“I don’t follow any of this, and even if I voted, I wouldn’t even know what I was voting for,” Gault said.
Aurelie Crouvillier, a bank employee in the French capital, said the result of Sunday’s vote was confusing because “we vote for candidates we don’t like when we should vote for ideas or at least important issues.” ”
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