French election latest: France's parties pull candidates and trade votes in bid to stop National Rally election victory (2024)

Table of Contents
Summary Live Reporting Yesterday's victory doesn't mean RN will form next governmentpublished at 18:06 1 July18:06 1 July A tense political race ahead, but shortly we will bring our coverage to a pausepublished at 18:01 1 July18:01 1 July Blinken underlines strength of NATOpublished at 17:51 1 July17:51 1 July Potentially confrontational cohabitation awaits Macron, says ex-ambassadorpublished at 17:44 1 July17:44 1 July A RN government would antagonise minorities - UCL professorpublished at 17:38 1 July17:38 1 July France wouldn't be first EU state with far right in powerpublished at 17:28 1 July17:28 1 July 'Our voices will be heard'published at 17:12 1 July17:12 1 July 'Today is a sad day': public reaction to the first round of votespublished at 17:05 1 July17:05 1 July Russia following results in France 'very closely' - Kremlinpublished at 16:51 1 July16:51 1 July The RN has tried to distance itself from allegations of Russian sympathiespublished at 16:42 1 July16:42 1 July In photos: How the first round of French election unfoldedpublished at 16:19 1 July16:19 1 July What does the rest of Europe think of France's first round?published at 16:02 1 July16:02 1 July Greens leader rejects calls to not back left wing alliancepublished at 15:46 1 July15:46 1 July What do candidates dropping out mean for Sunday's second round?published at 15:27 1 July15:27 1 July Scores of candidates drop out of triangulaires racespublished at 14:58 1 July14:58 1 July When would France's next presidential election happen?published at 14:40 1 July14:40 1 July What you need to know ahead of the second roundpublished at 14:10 1 July14:10 1 July France is gripped by the biggest political turmoil in decadespublished at 13:45 1 July13:45 1 July Who is Jean-Luc Mélenchon?published at 13:29 1 July13:29 1 July How did we get here?published at 12:50 1 July12:50 1 July

Summary

  • France's far right National Rally (RN) made big gains in the first round of the parliamentary election, winning 33.4% of the vote

  • Political leaders across the spectrum are now calling for tactical voting ahead of the second round to block RN from winning an outright majority

  • The left wing coalition New Popular Front came second with 27.9%

  • While Macron's centrist alliance trailed in third with 20.7% of the vote

  • It is unclear if the RN will be able to garner enough support next Sunday to take full control of the National Assembly

  • The party's co-leader Jordan Bardella, 28, aims to become the next PM

  • Voter turnout in Sunday's poll soared - the highest in a parliamentary election since 1997

Live Reporting

Edited by Nadia Ragozhina

  1. French election latest: France's parties pull candidates and trade votes in bid to stop National Rally election victory (1)

    Yesterday's victory doesn't mean RN will form next governmentpublished at 18:06 1 July

    18:06 1 July

    Hugh Schofield
    Paris correspondent

    The National Rally is now established as France’s dominant political force. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be able to form the next government.

    As campaigning gets underway for Sunday’s second round, moves are afoot to try to thwart the far-right’s ambitions.

    The two other big political blocs – the left-wing alliance called the New Popular Front and President Macron’s centrists – have the possibility, if their voters come together, of forming a blocking majority against the National Rally in many constituencies.

    In some, where there’s a three-way fight next Sunday, one or other of the two non-RN candidates could step down in order to concentrate the vote against the far-right.

    This so-called “Republican Front” has worked in the past – but its impact is not what it was.

    And the RN’s Jordan Bardella says he’s still confident the party will win enough seats to have an overall majority in the new Assembly.

    The programme of national recovery RN has been hoping to put in place if gets an overall majority has been watered down of late, with the aim of reassuring voters from the right and centre.

    But it still includes costly measures such as cutting value added tax (VAT) on fuel and electricity, and a promise to reduce the age of retirement.

    On immigration, the party wants to prioritise some social benefits for people with French nationality.

    The markets clearly think now that the party won’t get an outright majority in the new Assembly, and they’ve rallied as a result – though the likely alternative, a hung parliament with no party able to find a majority, is not exactly a recipe for stability.

  2. A tense political race ahead, but shortly we will bring our coverage to a pausepublished at 18:01 1 July

    18:01 1 July

    French election latest: France's parties pull candidates and trade votes in bid to stop National Rally election victory (2)Image source, Reuters

    As we have been reporting, the National Rally came top in an unprecedented victory leaving President Emmanuel Macron to join together with political opponents of France's hard-right to try to block them from securing a parliamentary majority next weekend.

    There is still plenty to come between now and then - including a TV appearance tonight by some of the party leaders.

    We will shortly be drawing our coverage of the first round of Sunday's French parliamentary elections to a close.

    Today's page has been written by Thomas Mackintosh, Cachella Smith, Paul Kirby and Tom Bennett. It has been edited by Nadia Ragozhina, Johanna Chisholm and Laura Gozzi.

    For further reading:

    Before we bid you bonne soirée, let's bring you the closing thoughts from our Paris correspondent...

  3. Blinken underlines strength of NATOpublished at 17:51 1 July

    17:51 1 July

    We've just had some reaction from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

    AFP news agency reports that he was asked about the success of the National Rally.

    Blinken does not comment on the French elections directly, but says he expects European allies to keep up strong support for NATO: "The alliance is moving to make sure that we have the right defences across the alliance where they're needed, where they matter," he says.

    "This has been a clear trajectory for the last three and a half years. I don't actually see that changing irrespective of the politics of the moment in Europe.

    "We have very strong allies, very strong partners."

  4. Potentially confrontational cohabitation awaits Macron, says ex-ambassadorpublished at 17:44 1 July

    17:44 1 July

    A government led by Marine Le Pen's National Rally (RN) party would be a very different proposition to Emmanuel Macron when it comes to cross-channel relations, says Britain's former ambassador to France.

    Lord Peter Ricketts says any political pact between the RN and Emmanuel Macron's presidency would be a "much more adversarial, confrontational cohabitation" than previous deals.

    "The arrival of a Jordan Bardella government would test the limits of the French republic constitution which defines the president's area of action as foreign policy, security while the government governs the country," Lord Ricketts tells BBC Radio 4's World at One programme.

    "We don't know how far Emmanuel Macron's writ would run in terms foreign policy, policy with the UK and the EU as against that of the government."

  5. A RN government would antagonise minorities - UCL professorpublished at 17:38 1 July

    17:38 1 July

    The next stage of the political battle will be fought over whether the far-right National Rally (RN) party can gain a majority next Sunday and, with that, a free hand to do what it wants - or whether it can be constrained because the National Assembly is split.

    Philippe Marlière of University College London (UCL) has told the BBC Radio 4's World at One he believes President Emmanuel Macron will stay in power regardless of the outcome of the election - but that his "room for manoeuvre domestically and international will be reduced".

    Marlière says Marine Le Pen's anti-immigration RN could "really unsettle what makes French people French" by "antagonising" minorities, women and the LGBTQ community.

    "They could... make the whole political solution much more tense than it is at the moment," Marlière adds.

  6. French election latest: France's parties pull candidates and trade votes in bid to stop National Rally election victory (3)

    France wouldn't be first EU state with far right in powerpublished at 17:28 1 July

    17:28 1 July

    Danny Aeberhard
    Europe regional editor, BBC World Service

    If the National Rally ends up winning an absolute majority in France, it wouldn't be the first major European Union state where the far right came to power.

    Two years ago, Giorgia Meloni became prime minister of the bloc's third biggest economy, Italy.

    In the Netherlands, a coalition led by Geert Wilders' far-right Freedom Party will be sworn in tomorrow.

    He was among leaders delighted by the National Rally's success.

    Meloni said it showed attempts to demonise those who didn't vote for the left were failing.

    The rightward shift is worrying centrist European politicians, including Poland's prime minister, Donald Tusk, himself a former head of the European Council.

    He warned of those who rejected traditional European democracy taking power, people who are pro-Putin, anti-Ukraine, and who use power for financial gain.

    "This is all really starting to smell very dangerous," he said.

    Many parties on the hard right would dispute Tusk's characterisation. Meloni, for example, is strongly pro-Ukraine.

    But populist parties, many on the far right, have been drawing on deep voter dissatisfaction to redraw the political map.

    They stress themes including national identity, Euroscepticism, immigration, security, the cost of living and what they see as burdensome environmental legislation.

    The shift to the right is not universal, however. Tusk himself took power last year from Poland's long-dominant right-wing Law and Justice party.

    And although far-right parties made gains in recent European Parliamentary elections, the body is still controlled by more centrist groupings.

  7. 'Our voices will be heard'published at 17:12 1 July

    17:12 1 July

    Justina Pukaite
    Reporting from Paris

    Noé feels angry about last night's election results.

    A 26-year-old working in thecinema industry, he believes that the French president is partly responsible for the National Rally's success, and if the far-right wins, he’s prepared to fight.

    “If there will be laws against our rights, we will be there – ourvoices will be heard,” he says, determined.

    There is sadness, there’s anger - but also a lot of confusion.

    Gaetan is against both the far right and the far left, which is part ofthe left-wing alliance, the New Popular Front.

    “I was pretty stuck in this election, because really, we have onlythree choices”, says the 25-year-old working in cyber security.

    Next Sunday, he’ll vote for Macron again.

  8. 'Today is a sad day': public reaction to the first round of votespublished at 17:05 1 July

    17:05 1 July

    Justina Pukaite
    Reporting from Paris

    French election latest: France's parties pull candidates and trade votes in bid to stop National Rally election victory (4)

    There's been a lot of chatter today from various political factions in France - but how are the people feeling today? Let's check in.

    Félicia is rushing across the street in the heart of Parison this Monday afternoon.

    When asked about yesterday’s snap election’s first round results,she says she feels shame.

    “It’s fascism winning today and that’s not something to be proudof. Today is a sad day, we all lost something”.

    The 35-year-old woman lives in the capital and as most Parisians,she voted for the left alliance.

    Most of the National Rally voters come from smaller cities and 61%of them say they are unsatisfied with their lives, according to recent polls.

    “I think that the poor people don’t understand what they’re votingfor and it’s really sad," says Félicia.

    But she is not shocked by the result.

    “Macron comes back, hoping that it’s going to be always the samegame, that he will always be winning the same part - no!’

    “Macron did nothing for the people, he didn’t listen to anybody”,she adds.

  9. Russia following results in France 'very closely' - Kremlinpublished at 16:51 1 July

    16:51 1 July

    Laura Gozzi
    Europe reporter

    The National Rally (RN) has tried to distance itself from allegations of Russian sympathies, but for some, the perception of a party with close ties with the Kremlin persists.

    In 2022, President Macron accused Le Pen of being too close to Russia, and last year, a French parliamentary report said that the RN had served as a "communication channel" for Russian power.

    Jordan Bardella said in a TV debate last week that his party would continue supporting Ukraine if it came to power - but added it would not send long-range missiles or French troops.

    This will have been noted with concern by Ukraine's allies in Europe, and likely with satisfaction by Moscow.

    For now, however, the Kremlin has opted not to weigh in on the French election - merely saying it is following the results "very closely".

    Quote Message

    "The trends that have previously emerged in a number of European countries, including France, are being confirmed. The preferences of French voters are more or less clear to us."

    Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesperson

  10. The RN has tried to distance itself from allegations of Russian sympathiespublished at 16:42 1 July

    16:42 1 July

    Laura Gozzi
    Europe reporter

    French election latest: France's parties pull candidates and trade votes in bid to stop National Rally election victory (5)Image source, Getty Images

    One of the criticisms mounted by opponents of the National Rally (RN) has to do with the party's past ties with Russia.

    Like several other European right-wing leaders, the RN's Marine Le Pen used to enjoy a positive relationship with the Kremlin and made frequent trips to Russia, notably between 2011 and 2017. She met with President Vladimir Putin and with Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service.

    In 2014 - the same year Russia illegally annexed Crimea, a move that was reviled by most European countries - the RN received a loan of €9.4m ($10.10m) from a Russian bank.

    Several times since then - and as recently as 2023 - Le Pen has said that Crimea “has always been Russian”.

    Since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, things have changed slightly. Days after Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, Le Pen said Putin had "clearly violated international law" and that his actions were "indefensible".

    The RN has further tried to distance itself from allegations of Russian sympathies. The 2014 loan was paid back last year, prompting the party's treasurer to say that opponents would "no longer be able to use this against us".

  11. In photos: How the first round of French election unfoldedpublished at 16:19 1 July

    16:19 1 July

    Twenty-four hours is a long time in politics.

    With under a week to go before the second round of votes take place, here are a few snapshots to sum up events that have taken place over the last two days.

    French election latest: France's parties pull candidates and trade votes in bid to stop National Rally election victory (6)Image source, Reuters

    French election latest: France's parties pull candidates and trade votes in bid to stop National Rally election victory (7)Image source, Reuters

    French election latest: France's parties pull candidates and trade votes in bid to stop National Rally election victory (8)Image source, Reuters

    French election latest: France's parties pull candidates and trade votes in bid to stop National Rally election victory (9)Image source, Reuters

    French election latest: France's parties pull candidates and trade votes in bid to stop National Rally election victory (10)Image source, Reuters

  12. What does the rest of Europe think of France's first round?published at 16:02 1 July

    16:02 1 July

    French election latest: France's parties pull candidates and trade votes in bid to stop National Rally election victory (11)Image source, Reuters

    It's been a mixed bag of responses from the rest of the European continent, as politicians from across the spectrum began reacting to the gains made by the far-right National Rally (RN) in the first round. Here's what some of them have been saying:

    • Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has warned RN's success last night showed a dangerous turn and made allegations about "Russian influence" in "many parties of the radical right in Europe".
    • Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock echoed those concerns for a country she considers a "closest partner and best friend", saying: "A party that sees Europe as the problem and not the solution is far ahead"
    • But, Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders was jubilant - posting a heart and flexed bicep emoji on social media
    • Finally, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has said attempts to "demonise" far-right voters were losing impact
  13. Greens leader rejects calls to not back left wing alliancepublished at 15:46 1 July

    15:46 1 July

    French election latest: France's parties pull candidates and trade votes in bid to stop National Rally election victory (12)Image source, Reuters

    We can now bring you some more reaction to political heavyweights calling for French voters to embrace tactical voting ahead of next week's second round.

    For Greens leader Marine Tondelier, she found herself on the verge of tears during a radio interview earlier, when she reacted angrily to a Macron minister's call not to back the biggest party in the left-wing alliance.

    She was responding to Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire's comment, who said that voters should steer clear of France Unbowed, whose critics denounce it as extremist, as much as they should not vote for the National Rally.

    Tondelier went on to say the Macron alliance had misunderstood the issue and had chosen dishonour and cowardice.

    "Does National Rally have a chance of winning an absolute majority in the National Assembly? The answer is yes," she said, adding that on the other hand France Unbowed are not in a position to win an absolute majority.

    Quote Message

    [Le Maire] picked the wrong issue. Thankfully left wing voters are not as sectarian and cowardly."

    Marine Tondelier, Greens leader

  14. French election latest: France's parties pull candidates and trade votes in bid to stop National Rally election victory (13)

    What do candidates dropping out mean for Sunday's second round?published at 15:27 1 July

    15:27 1 July

    Ido Vock
    Live reporter

    French election latest: France's parties pull candidates and trade votes in bid to stop National Rally election victory (14)Image source, Reuters

    All eyes in France are now focused on what will happen in the record 306 run-offs where three candidates from various political parties will be vying for a majority. In most cases, these are candidates from the far-right National Rally (RN), left-wing New Popular Front (NFP) and centrist Ensemble parties.

    In an effort to block the RN, one candidate on the ballot has withdrawn in at least 167 of these contests - making next week's run-off a straight duel with the far right, according to a count, external by newspaper Le Monde.

    In most cases, these are members of the NFP or Macron's Ensemble, who came third in the first round.

    In these head-to-head duels, the anti-RN candidate should have more votes to fall back on, giving them a better chance of defeating the far right in the second round.

    These tactical withdrawals also make it harder for the NFP and Ensemble to gain an absolute majority of seats - 289 - in the next parliament. That is because every seat a party doesn't contest reduces the number of MPs it could potentially win next week.

    For their part, the RN has not withdrawn from any triangulaires, so does not have this issue. That means the RN is increasingly looking like the only party with a realistic chance of winning a majority of seats next week.

    The best the other parties can hope for now is probably to keep the RN below 289 - not to be able to form a government of their own.

  15. Scores of candidates drop out of triangulaires racespublished at 14:58 1 July

    14:58 1 July

    As we've been reporting, candidates have until tomorrow evening to decide whether they are going to run in the second round of voting or if they are to stand down.

    The latest numbers from Le Monde, external show at least 167 candidates have now withdrawn from triangulaires races - which as we explained earlier is a three-way run-off race between the candidates who won at least 12.5% of the vote yesterday.

    This leaves these contests to be fought between two candidates - otherwise known as duels.

    The parties involved in the second round have until Tuesday evening to confirm which candidates are standing in Sunday's second round, so the numbers are still likely to change.

  16. When would France's next presidential election happen?published at 14:40 1 July

    14:40 1 July

    French election latest: France's parties pull candidates and trade votes in bid to stop National Rally election victory (15)Image source, Reuters

    While the French are heading to the polls on Sunday to decide the next head of government - the prime minister - they won't be deciding who the next president is for another four years.

    In the French political system, the prime minister leads the National Assembly (France's parliament), the president is head of state.

    The next presidential election is on 11 April 2027, and President Emmanuel Macron will not be eligible to run again as he is limited to two terms.

    But Marine Le Pen, the former leader of National Rally and a name you're likely quite familiar with, will be able to run for the highest office in France. She's twice made it through to the second round when she made bids for the presidency in 2017 and 2022.

    Though she's not competing for the nation's vote in Sunday's second round, if her party secures a victory next week it would give her significant bump in winning the French presidency in 2027.

  17. What you need to know ahead of the second roundpublished at 14:10 1 July

    14:10 1 July

    French election latest: France's parties pull candidates and trade votes in bid to stop National Rally election victory (16)Image source, Reuters

    Sunday night saw a historic snap election play out in France. Not only was it the highest voter turnout in 40 years, but it also saw the far-right National Rally (RN) win the first round.

    If Marine Le Pen's RN repeats this in the second round of the parliamentary election next week - happening 7 July - it would become the country’s first far-right government since the World War Two Nazi occupation.

    It's a high stakes scenario for French voters. But if you're just joining us now, here's everything you need to know to get caught up:

    • After RN, a left wing coalition, New Popular Front, came second with 27.9%
    • Emmanuel Macron's own Ensemble alliance trailed in third with 20.7% of the vote
    • Tactical voting - where voters prioritise a candidate with the highest chance of winning - is being encouraged by Macron and left-wing leaders in order to block RN candidates from winning an outright majority
    • Jordan Bardella, RN's leader, is challenging political heavyweights from the far-left alliance to a debate ahead of next week's second round
    • Jean-Luc Mélenchon - a candidate from the hard-left France Unbowed party - agrees that there needs to be a test between the "two projects" facing the French ahead of Sunday

    As a reminder, France is voting in a parliamentary election, meaning President Macron will remain in power (as he's confirmed) regardless of the outcome of Sunday's vote.

  18. French election latest: France's parties pull candidates and trade votes in bid to stop National Rally election victory (17)

    France is gripped by the biggest political turmoil in decadespublished at 13:45 1 July

    13:45 1 July

    Mark Lowen
    Reporting from Paris

    Paris should be basking in the excitement of hosting theOlympics in just over three weeks – at the centre of the world stage for ajoyous reason.

    But instead, France is now gripped by its biggest politicalturmoil in decades, ripped apart politically and socially, and agonising overwho will be leading this country in a week’s time.

    “Emmanuel Macron came to power promising to revive the FifthRepublic”, political commentator Alexandre Kouchner tells me, “but instead hemight bury it.”

    The far-right is now at the gates of power, hoping to entergovernment for the first time since World War Two.

    Some of itssupporters crave law and order and a hard line on immigration, others simplywant to try an alternative, after decades of disappointment with the politicalmainstream.

    But the other side of France is horrified that their Republic couldfall to a party whose original founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, once dismissed theNazi concentration camps as a “detail of history”.

    They just don’t believe inthe apparent detoxification by his daughter, Marine.

    As France enters uncharted territory, Kouchner tells meMacron called the election to achieve clarity but ended up with quite theopposite.

    “How very French”, he says, with a wry smile.

  19. Who is Jean-Luc Mélenchon?published at 13:29 1 July

    13:29 1 July

    French election latest: France's parties pull candidates and trade votes in bid to stop National Rally election victory (18)Image source, EPA

    Jean-Luc Mélenchon is a name we've been hearing a lot in the last few days, and that's likely to continue to be the case.

    So, who is he? A veteran firebrand of France's far left, Jean-Luc Mélenchon is one of the main faces of the alliance of far-left, left and green parties that form the New Popular Front bloc.

    Jean-Luc Mélenchon dropped a career in teaching and journalism for left-wing politics in the 1970s. He served briefly as junior education minister under Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, but by the early 2000s, he became disillusioned with the what he saw as the Socialists' drift to the right.

    He became a Euro MP as part of a new left-wing party in 2009. But it was only when he formed France Insoumise, the France Unbowed party, that he broke through, winning 19.6% of the vote in the 2017 presidential election.

    He bettered that in the April 2022 presidential election, with 21.95% of the vote, attracting a cross-section of voters on the left and coming close to beating far-right rival Marine Le Pen to challenge Emmanuel Macron in the run-off vote.

    In yesterday's vote, New Popular Front came second, with 27.99% of the vote.

    Speaking to reporters, Mélenchon said his candidates would drop out if they were in third place, to defeat the far right: "Our instructions are simple, direct and clear. Not one more vote, not one more seat for the RN."

  20. How did we get here?published at 12:50 1 July

    12:50 1 July

    French election latest: France's parties pull candidates and trade votes in bid to stop National Rally election victory (19)Image source, Reuters

    Let's take a step back and remind ourselves how we got here.

    Last month President Macron dissolved parliament and called a snap election just an hour after his centrist Together alliance was trounced by the National Rally (RN) in European Parliament elections.

    The National Rally's success at that vote did not mean he had to call an election.

    At the time, Macron told voters: "I have heard your message.

    "And I will not let it go without a response.

    "France needs a clear majority in serenity and harmony," adding that he could not resign himself to the far-right's progress "everywhere in the continent".

    You can read more about the European parliament election results here and more on Macron's announcement here.

    These parliamentary elections won't affect Macron's own job, as they are separate from the presidential elections and his term as president still runs for three more years.

French election latest: France's parties pull candidates and trade votes in bid to stop National Rally election victory (2024)
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