French far right wins big in first round of voting, polls suggest

PARIS (NYT) — The National Rally party on Sunday won a crushing victory in the first round of voting for the French National Assembly, according to early projections, bringing its long-taboo brand of nationalist and anti-immigrant politics to the threshold of power for the first time.

Pollster projections, which are normally reliable and are based on preliminary results, suggested that the party would take about 34% of the vote, far ahead of President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Renaissance party and its allies, which took about 22% to end in third place.

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A coalition of left-wing parties, called the New Popular Front and ranging from the moderate socialists to the far-left France Unbowed, won about 29% of the vote boosted by strong support among young people.

Turnout was high, at about 67%, compared with 47.5% in the first round of the last parliamentary election in 2022, reflecting the importance accorded by voters to the snap election. To many, it seemed that no less than the future of France was on the line with a far-right party long considered unelectable to high office because of its extreme views surging.

The two-round election will be completed with a runoff July 7 between the leading parties in each constituency.

The result of voting Sunday does not provide a reliable projection of the number of parliamentary seats each party will secure. But the National Rally now looks very likely to be comfortably the largest force in the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament where most power resides, although not necessarily with an absolute majority.

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