Macron Expresses Confidence in French Voters Amid Snap Election Announcement

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Copyright Omar Havana/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved

President Emmanuel Macron expressed confidence on Monday that the French people would make the “right choice” in the snap elections he called following a significant defeat of his centrist alliance in the EU elections by the far right. The unexpected decision came after Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally (RN) secured around 31% of the vote; more than double that of Macron’s pro-European Renaissance party and its left-wing partners.

The stunning result is a blow to Macron and his efforts to reform the EU, which he has promised will be a defining part of his presidency. He may now be forced to negotiate a deal with an anti-EU party for a parliamentary majority, which could jeopardize his drive to liberalize the economy and overhaul France’s rigid labor laws.

RN leader and Le Pen’s protege Jordan Bardella, 28, made no secret of his delight after the official tally was announced Sunday night, telling supporters that “this is day one of our revolution.” Bardella, who was following the results at home in Paris with Le Pen, vowed to fight for a France that is not overrun by “scum and parasites” and to put an end to mass immigration.

While the results were still being tallied, Macron dissolved parliament and called new elections. The surprise move was a political gamble because his center-right party is expected to suffer more losses, potentially hobbling the rest of his term as president, ending in 2027.

Mainstream centrist parties kept an overall majority in the European Parliament, the EU’s lower house, but the far right notched a string of high-profile victories. In Italy, the anti-immigrant League and its allies are poised to win the most seats, while in Austria, the scandal-plagued right-wing AfD is set to take up to 30 seats, almost double its current tally.

In Germany, the hard-line anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) is poised to become the largest group in the Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament, with about 14 percent of the vote. The far-left Left is likely to finish third with around 14 percent, followed by the centrist Greens with about 12 percent.

Despite the loss, Macron has retained the support of most of the mainstream parties in his bloc and remains the clear favorite to win the new elections. But he also risks being forced into a coalition with the far-right, which could tarnish his legacy in Europe and threaten the future of his reforms. The upcoming elections also come just weeks before the start of the Paris Olympics. However, the International Olympic Committee chief has downplayed the potential impact on the event, saying he expects a large turnout from French citizens and tourists. The games will open on 30 June and run through 7 July. AP political writer Elwyn Lopez contributed to this report.

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