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France: Marine Le Pen's far-right party makes historic gains in EU elections

Leader of the French National Rally Marine Le Pen and lead candidate of the party for the upcoming EU election Jordan Bardella attend a political meeting June 2, 2024 in Paris
Leader of the French National Rally Marine Le Pen and lead candidate of the party for the upcoming EU election Jordan Bardella attend a political meeting June 2, 2024 in Paris Copyright AP
Copyright AP
By Clara Preve
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The National Rally party gained 31.5% of support in France according to exit polls on Sunday, becoming the first French party to receive more than 30% of votes in European elections since 1984.

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The far-right National Rally (RN) party secured 31,5% of votes in the European elections on Sunday, leaving behind President Emmanuel Macron's Renaissance, according to first exit polls.

Macron's Renaissance party, led by Valerie Hayer, received 15.2% of the votes -- not even half of National Rally's support -- a decline from the 22% it received in the 2019 elections. National Rally, on the other hand, saw an eight-point increase in support from the 23% it received five years ago.

Amid the defeat, President Macron announced he would dissolve the national assembly.

"I can't pretend that nothing has happened," he said during a televised speech.

Macron also warned that "the rise of the nationalists and demagogues is a threat not only to our nation but also to our Europe and to France's place in Europe and in the world".

The leader of the National Rally party, 28-year-old Jordan Bardella, welcomed the results "with very high spirit responsibility," "humility," and "gravity".

During a victory speech in Paris, he said the outcome was a "clear message addressed to Emmanuel Macron and European leaders and marks our country's determination to see the European Union change direction."

The president of the RN, Marine Le Pen, said that the French people have given "a very clear message" to Macron. "They no longer want a technocratic, above-ground European construction and increasingly brutal which denies its history, flouts its fundamental prerogatives and which results in a loss of influence, identity and freedom."

The National Rally party managed to attract the electorate by "organising a national-looking campaign rather than a European one," Francesco Sismondini, election polls Analyst, told Euronews. The party's main interest was to "pave their way" for the 2027 national elections, and "they made it," he added.

In third place, the left-wing Place Publique, led by Raphaël Glucksmann, received 14% of votes. Shortly after the results were released, he said during a press conference that he "does not have the soul to celebrate" as Europe witnesses a "wave which is profoundly shaking our democracies."

“Faced with the return of war in Europe and the rise of the extreme right, we will stand up,” Glucksmann said.

La France Insoumise received 8.7% of votes, followed by The Republicans with 7,2% and Reconquête with 5.5%. The Greens received 5.2%.

Head of The Greens, Marie Touissant, said the defeat is "dry" and "bitter" and opens doors to "all the risks".

"Faced with the war waged against ecology, we are going backwards," Toussaint said in a speech after the first results were announced.

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