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French elections: Record number of far-right MPs enter National Assembly

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, right, arrives to pose with newly elected parliament members of the National Rally party at the National Assembly Wednesday, July 10, 20
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, right, arrives to pose with newly elected parliament members of the National Rally party at the National Assembly Wednesday, July 10, 20 Copyright Michel Euler/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Michel Euler/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Sophia Khatsenkova
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After a surprising defeat in the second round of the French legislative elections on Sunday, the National Rally party led by Marine Le Pen remains a major force in the National Assembly.

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Dozens of newly elected far-right MPs arrived for the first time on Wednesday at the National Assembly in Paris since the results of the French legislative elections on 7 July.

Despite the National Rally’s surprising defeat at the hands of the left-wing coalition New Popular Front (NFP), followed by French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance, the far-right still made significant gains growing from 89 seats in 2022 to at least 123 in the National Assembly today. 

The left-wing alliance holds the largest number of seats in the National Assembly, with 193 of 577, but is well short of the 289-seat threshold for a majority. The centrists under Macron hold 164.

With this number, the National Rally will have a key role in maintaining or toppling the future government. And one thing is clear: they will block any left-wing prime minister, most MPs told reporters.

"A quagmire" that can only be resolved by a new dissolution for some MPs

Others such as National Rally MP Philippe Ballard believe the only way out of the looming institutional crisis is a new dissolution that can only happen next year. 

"We've outlined the political prospects, it's a leap into the unknown, it's a quagmire, as Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella have called it," he said referring to the leaders of the party.

"We also discussed the future. Apart from another dissolution in a year, we can't see any other solution, so we're going to start campaigning again soon," he told Euronews.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen arrives at the National Assembly Wednesday, July 10, 2024 in Paris.
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen arrives at the National Assembly Wednesday, July 10, 2024 in Paris.Michel Euler/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

Jordan Bardella, the President of the National Rally and 28-year-old MEP, made an appearance and called on the newly elected politicians to be "perfectly irreproachable" during their term of office.

The legislative elections were marked by the revelation of numerous racist and anti-Semitic remarks made by National Rally candidates.

Presidential camp scrambles to make alliances

The battle for Matignon, the office of the Prime Minister continues within the other blocs.

The Presidential camp is scrambling to find allies in an attempt to block a left-wing government, particularly the largest party within the coalition: France Unbowed (LFI) party led by controversial figure Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

"We warned very clearly that if tomorrow the NFP had to govern and there was only one member of France Unbowed party, then there would be a no-confidence vote and the government would fall... We have to create an alliance beyond the current blocs that are paralysed," Aurore Bergé, Minister delegate for gender equality under Macron told reporters.

In a letter published in the regional press on Wednesday, Emmanuel Macron called on "political forces that recognise themselves in republican institutions" to form a "solid" majority group in the National Assembly before being able to appoint a new Prime Minister.

The message hopes to rally MPs from the more moderate left-wing parties such as the Socialists (PS) and the moderates from the conservative right-wing party The Republicans (LR).

However, the newly elected leader of LR, Laurent Wauquiez, announced to French media that his party would not forge any coalition with the presidential camp.

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On the left, the parties have promised to come up with a name for the Prime Minister this week and are insisting they are capable of ruling France as a minority government.

"It's that the leading political group appoints the Prime Minister. The leading political group is the New Popular Front," Jean-Luc Mélénchon, the leader of the France Unbowed (LFI) party told reporters in Brussels.

President Emmanuel Macron on Monday asked his prime minister, Gabriel Attal, to continue handling day-to-day affairs, less than three weeks before the start of the Paris Olympics.

The first session of the lower house of the French Parliament will be held on July 18.

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