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French election preview: Polls show right-wing party leads runoff as opponents urge tactical voting

France is set to elect the right-wing National Rally (RN) as the largest party in government, yet no party may emerge with a clear majority in this tightly contested election as the second round of voting kicks off this weekend.

The first round, which occurred June 30, resulted in just 76 of the 577 constituencies in the French National Assembly determining their representative. Any candidate who did not receive an outright majority in the first round of voting heads on to the second-round runoff, which is set for July 7.

Those few contests that concluded in the first round revealed a lot about voter sentiment and indicated trouble for the current government after RN took one-third of the vote, the most by any party.

The current government is an ‘ensemble,’ a coalition of parties, including French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance (RE), Democratic Movement, Horizons, En Commun and the Progressive federation. Despite the assembly election results, Macron will retain his mandate as president until the 2027 election.

Macron called the snap election after RN scored enormous success in the European Parliamentary elections in June. Polling before the first round of voting indicated RN would continue to dominate, but more recent polling ahead of the runoff indicates those returns have diminished and RN will fall short of a clear majority.

Wednesday’s poll indicates RN will end up taking between 190 and 220 seats, but it would need 289 seats to control the assembly, according to Reuters. Additionally, its closest ally, the Republicans, are projected to win – at most – around 50 seats, ruling out some kind of right-wing coalition to take control of the assembly.

The next largest share would go to the New Popular Front alliance, which could net between 159 and 183 seats, leaving Macron’s ensemble third with around 110 to 135 seats. Macron has already ruled out making a new alliance with the left-wing party France Unbowed (LFI), according to French daily Le Figaro.

Many candidates from Macron’s alliance who reached the runoff have already stood down in an effort to focus voters and support behind the strongest non-RN candidate in any given constituency. Former French Prime Minister Edouard Phillippe told French network TF1 TV he would vote for a Communist candidate to stop RN from winning the seat.

Macron insisted, however, that ‘withdrawing today for left-wing elected officials in the face of National Rally does not mean governing tomorrow with LFI.’

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal last month blasted LFI as equally extreme and just as dangerous to French society as RN, writing on social media platform X that ‘Insoumise France fuels the National Rally and the National Rally fuels Insoumise France.

‘They fuel hatred, fears and divisions between the French,’ Attal added. ‘On June 30 and July 7, against the extremes and for the Republic, vote!’

Opposition to RN stems from its roots as National Front, headed up by Marine Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie Le Pen, who was repeatedly convicted for racist and antisemitic remarks, including elements of Holocaust denial, such as when he referred to Nazi gas chambers as a ‘detail’ of history.

But Marine Le Pen has found support among some of France’s Jewish voters as antisemitism continues to grow in Europe.

Her anti-Islam views and comments, however, have raised concerns among other voters, as well. In 2017, she suggested France expel any foreigners convicted of a crime or suspected of being radicalized and said convicted extremists with dual nationality should be stripped of their French passports, Radio France Internationale reported.

‘The measures that I want to put in place would mean that many of these people (Islamist attackers) would not have been on our territory or living freely,’ she said in an interview with BFM TV.

In the event the votes should fall as the polls predict, the most likely outcome for France will be a hung parliament with some kind of begrudging alliance created to get a leader in place. The Conservative Party in Britain regained power from Labour in 2010 through a hung parliament alliance with the Liberal-Democrats, ultimately establishing an outright majority in the following election.

But, at that time, the Conservatives had 306 of 650 seats, making it far easier to broker such a deal. For France, RN would need support from two other parties or would need to form some kind of alliance with a direct rival.

The government has urged voters to do what they can to continue diminishing RN’s chances of achieving control of the assembly, with Attal arguing voters had a ‘responsibility’ to block RN from victory.

‘On Sunday evening, what’s at stake in the second round is to do everything so the extreme right does not have an absolute majority,’ Attal said during an appearance on France Inter radio as reported by Voice of America.

‘It is not nice for some French to have to block … by using a vote that they did not want to,’ he added, clarifying that he ‘did not speak about a coalition. I do not want to impose on the French a coalition they did not choose.’

This post appeared first on FOX NEWS

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