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‘I am ashamed’: France’s leftists worry about far-right gains, hope for second-round success

Protesters gather after the French election results in the first round of the legislative elections.
Protesters gather after the French election results in the first round of the legislative elections. Copyright Euronews/Lauren Chadwick
Copyright Euronews/Lauren Chadwick
By Lauren Chadwick
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Protesters gathered with the left-wing coalition at Place de la République in Paris after the results of the first round of France’s legislative election showed strong gains for the far-right.


Emotions were running high in Paris as left-wing voters gathered with leaders of the New Popular Front (NPF) coalition at the Place de la République in a post-election meeting that transformed into a mass protest against the far-right.

The leftist coalition came in second in the first round of the snap legislative elections, according to early results, behind the far-right National Rally (RN) on Sunday.

“I am dejected. I feel a bit like I’m going to cry. It was either do this [come to protest] or stay at home and cry. I am quite ashamed,” Eugénie, a 22-year-old in Paris, told Euronews.

Her comments were echoed by other young protesters in the capital city who said they decided to join the NFP meeting as they were in shock and disturbed by the results.

Young campaign activists from one of the coalition parties, La France Insoumise (LFI), who gathered earlier in the evening to watch the election results come in, said that they had expected this outcome, and were now focused on the second round of the election on 7 July.

“My feeling is that I’m scared by what could happen in one week [but] state of mind is that of a fight. I am combative. We still have one week to catch up and it’s not impossible,” Jeroen Atputharajah, a 21-year-old activist and former local LFI candidate in the suburbs of Paris, told Euronews.

Good results for leftist coalition, with all eyes on the second round

Tara Varma, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and expert on French politics, said that the results were good for the left-wing coalition, but that they were still well behind the far-right.

“The aim of the [leftist coalition] was to come ahead of the RN but this hasn’t happened for the moment,” she said.

Sarah Legrain, an NFP candidate who was elected outright on Sunday in her constituency in Paris, told reporters that the election isn't over with the coalition focused on the second round.

“The subject is not to see how we catch up in the first round. It’s what will play out in the middle of these two rounds,” she said.

“I think the [high] mobilisation and participation show that we have lots of people who [are joining the] vote, people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods and young people ... and these people will determine the result of the second round, and to them, I say: give us a majority for the New Popular Front,” she added.

Parties in the left-wing coalition called very quickly for a “Republican front” against the far-right, stating that they would withdraw candidates that made it to the second round if there was already a two-way race with an RN candidate.

A protester with a sign that plays on the name of the far-right party, RN, to say "era of hatred, that's enough".
A protester with a sign that plays on the name of the far-right party, RN, to say "era of hatred, that's enough".Euronews/Lauren Chadwick

Varma said there is a much larger number of constituency races with more than two candidates than in 2022, and that these could be decided on a case-by-case basis.

As President Emmanuel Macron’s candidates are more likely to be in third place in many of these races, the choice of his voters could be essential in round two.

While the president’s coalition has called for a “Republican front,” some ministers, such as Aurore Bergé, called on voters to vote for neither the RN nor LFI.

Younous Omarjee, a leftist member of the European Parliament from the French territory of La Réunion, told Euronews that the coalition was clear that not a single vote should go to the RN.

“We have an opportunity to counter the arrival of the far right to power in France, and it's possible. I really think it’s possible,” Omarjee said.

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