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Macron calls shock French elections after far-right rout by Le Pen

In World
June 09, 2024

By Michel Rose and Tassilo Hummel

PARIS (Reuters) -French President Emmanuel Macron set off a political earthquake on Sunday when he called shock legislative elections for later this month after he was trounced in the European Union vote by Marine Le Pen’s far-right party.

Macron’s surprise decision represents a major roll of the dice on his political future, three years before his presidency ends. If Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) party wins a parliamentary majority, Macron would be left without a say in domestic affairs.

Macron said the EU results were grim for his government, and one he could not pretend to ignore. In an address to the nation, less than two months before Paris hosts the Olympics, he said lower house elections would be called for June 30, with a second-round vote on July 7.

“This is an essential time for clarification,” Macron said. “I have heard your message, your concerns and I will not leave them unanswered … France needs a clear majority to act in serenity and harmony.”

Led by telegenic 28-year-old Jordan Bardella, the RN won about 32% of the vote in Sunday’s vote, more than double the Macron ticket’s 15%, according to the first exit polls. The Socialists came within a whisker of Macron, with 14%.

Le Pen, the frontrunner for the 2027 election in which Macron is unable to stand, welcomed the president’s decision.

“We are ready to take over power if the French give us their trust in the upcoming national elections,” she said at a rally.

Macron’s advisers said the president made his decision after this week’s 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, when he met people out and about who said they were tired of endless political infighting in parliament.

Le Pen and Bardella sought to frame the EU election as a mid-term referendum on Macron’s mandate, tapping into discontent with immigration, crime and a two-year inflation crisis.

(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel and Michel Rose, editing by Benoit Van Overstraeten, William Maclean)

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