• Wednesday, 10 July 2024

French President Macron calls snap elections after EU poll defeat

French President Macron calls snap elections after EU poll defeat

Paris, 10 June 2024 (dpa/MIA) - French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Sunday that he will dissolve parliament and hold snap elections, following his party's clear defeat by the far-right National Rally in European Parliament elections earlier that day.

Elections to the National Assembly are to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7, Macron said.

He said the challenges faced by France required clarity and the people deserved respect. "At the end of this day, therefore, I cannot pretend that nothing has happened," he added.

"The decision is serious and difficult, but it is above all an act of trust, trust in you, my dear compatriots," the president said, adding that he trusted the French people to take the best decisions in their own interest and that of future generations.

The National Rally in France is set to beat Macron's Renaissance by a wide margin in the country's European Parliament elections, according to broadcasters' projections after voting had ended.

The populist, eurosceptic National Rally party, whose figurehead is Marine Le Pen, received 31.5 to 32.3% of the vote, while Macron's pro-European camp only received around 15.2 to 15.4%, broadcasters France 2 and TF1 reported on Sunday after the polls closed.

"Emmanuel Macron is a weakened president tonight," National Rally leader Jordan Bardella said earlier in the evening, calling for new elections.

"This unprecedented defeat for the ruling power marks the end of a cycle and the first day of the post-Macron era," he added.

The Socialists came third with 14 to 14.2%, just behind Macron's centrist bloc, according to the projections. The extreme right-wing Reconquête (Reconquest) party was at 5.3 to 5.5%.

Voter turnout was higher than five years ago at around 52%.

Sunday's voting also sets the scene for presidential elections in 2027. Macron, who won a run-off election against Le Pen twice, will not be able to run again after two terms in office.

It is unclear who the centre-right forces will send into the race and who would stand a chance against Le Pen.

Sunday's results are a huge blow to Macron's government, which has already lost its absolute majority in the National Assembly, France's lower house of parliament.

National Rally's landslide victory entrenches a trend that already emerged in 2019, when the party came narrowly ahead of Macron's camp in the last European elections.

Marine Le Pen, the daughter of the movement's far-right founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, has successfully rebranded the party initially known as the National Front, presenting a far more moderate image in recent years to increase its appeal to centre-right voters.

Elections to the European Parliament have taken place across the 27-country bloc over the past four days, with some 360 million people called upon to vote.

While the vote does not directly impact national politics, as it only determines who sits in the EU legislature, domestic political issues tend to dominate voters' choices.