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Surprise win for left-wing coalition in French elections – Newsletter –

Surprise win for left-wing coalition in French elections – Newsletter –

Left Alliance demands government – Prime Minister Atal (r) announces his resignation.
© AFP, Reuters

The left-wing opposition coalition, the New Popular Front, won a surprise victory in Sunday's French parliamentary elections.

The coalition, led by left-wing populist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, has 182 of the 589 seats in the National Assembly. The right-wing populists led by Marine Le Pen, who had a large majority after the first round of the election, came in third with 143 seats, behind the presidential coalition, which won 168 seats. Prime Minister Gabriel Attal announced his resignation.

Euphoria after French election runoff

Attal is likely to remain in his position as an acting member.

After the initial projections were published on election night, Attal said he would submit his resignation to President Emmanuel Macron on Monday. Macron’s centrist camp no longer has a majority in parliament. Macron could ask Attal and the government to stay on on a temporary basis for current business. This was also expected with the start of the Paris Olympics on July 26. The 34-year-old has only been in office since January. He is seen as very popular and a unifier, but as the front-runner of the government camp, he was on the losing side in the election campaign. Macron did not comment on the evening of the election.

The French do not want right-wing extremists.

French Green MP Mathilde Olivier sits in the Senate, the second chamber of the French parliament, where she represents French expatriates. Olivier told ZIB 2 that the French do not want right-wing extremists to come to power, which could explain the surprise election result.

Left-wing alliance outperforms Macron and the right

Macron called the election after the convincing victory of the right-wing populist National Rally party in the European elections in June in order to reaffirm his government majority (250 seats so far). He clearly wanted to present himself to voters – as he did during his electoral victories in 2017 and 2022 – as a bulwark against right-wing populism. The left-wing parties foiled this plan by forming a joint coalition within days, which then came in second to the right-wing populist National Front party in the first round of the elections on June 30. As a result, the left-wing coalition and the presidential camp reached tactical agreements to prevent the National Front candidates from being elected in Sunday’s run-off.

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Right-wing populists were expecting victory.

The shock in the right-wing populist camp, which was confident of victory, was great. Party leader Marine Le Pen spoke of a “postponed” victory for her National Rally party. “The tide is rising,” she told TF1 television. “It didn’t rise enough this time, but it keeps rising, and that’s why our victory has been postponed.” Your party lost only because of tactical agreements between its opponents. National Front leader Jordan Bardella warned that France was now in the clutches of the radical left. Bardella was counting on his party’s absolute majority and already saw himself as prime minister. All opinion polls predicted that the National Front would win at least a relative majority in the new parliament.

The Republican Front continues its work

Leftists want to rule France

The victorious left-wing coalition immediately claimed the government. “The new Popular Front is ready to govern,” declared Jean-Luc Mélenchon, former leader of the left-wing populist party France Insoumise. Socialist leader Olivier Faure spoke out against a possible “alliance” with the government camp. “The new Popular Front must take this new page of our history into its own hands,” he declared, announcing the implementation of left-wing social and economic policies. For example, Macron’s pension reform should also be reversed. “It is time to tax the rich and the super-profitable,” he declared.

Despite their victory, the left is still far from a ruling majority in the new National Assembly. In addition to their 181 mandates, there are 13 seats for other left-wing candidates. The same goes for the presidential camp, which has so far enjoyed the support of conservative Republicans. These have been whittled down to 45 mandates. Centrist politicians managed to win six mandates, and 15 seats went to right-wing politicians. Because of the confusing majority situation, observers still see President Macron playing a major role.

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Holland is back

Former President François Hollande has returned to parliament in the elections. However, he has declared that he will not run for prime minister. “To be in a government, do you still have to be a candidate to lead it? I am not,” Hollande told BFMTV. But he has hinted at his ambitions for a ministerial post. Hollande told France 2 that with his foreign policy experience he could be “useful in ensuring that France’s interests are protected.” In the elections, Hollande won the central French constituency he had represented from 1988 to 1993 and from 1997 to 2012.

International reactions

Internationally, the National Front’s disappointing electoral success received positive comments. “The worst has been avoided,” Nils Schmid, foreign policy spokesman for the Social Democrats’ parliamentary group, told the Funke media group. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz initially did not comment. “There is excitement in Paris, disappointment in Moscow, relief in Kiev. People are happy in Warsaw,” Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk wrote on the SMS service X. “There is excitement in Paris, disappointment in Moscow, relief in Kiev. People are happy in Warsaw,” Nikos Androulakis, leader of the Greek Socialist Party (Pasok), told the French people. “We have a wall built against right-wing extremism, racism and intolerance and that preserves the eternal principles of the French Republic: liberty, equality and fraternity.”

According to the broadcast, SPÖ leader Andreas Babler was delighted with the surprise victory of the left-wing alliance in France. “Contrary to all the polls, today it has once again shown that the right can be stopped,” Babler said. “I am convinced that in Austria it is also possible to prevent a right-wing government and to improve people’s living conditions again with a government led by the Social Democrats.”

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riots in france

Riots and serious clashes broke out during election night marches in Paris and other cities. In Paris, thousands of people gathered at the Place de la République in the centre of the capital to celebrate the victory of the left-wing coalition in the early elections. Police used tear gas against rioting protesters. Wooden barricades were set on fire. In central Paris, a number of shops and banks boarded up their windows on election day amid fears of rioting.

Clashes between anti-fascists and police were also reported in Lille, northern France. Here, police also used tear gas against people. According to media reports, 25 people were arrested in Rennes, western France, after riot police used tear gas against left-wing protesters who chanted, among other things, “Everyone hates the police.” In Nantes, a police officer was injured when a Molotov cocktail was thrown, according to a report in the local newspaper. Protesters threw fireworks at security forces, who in turn used tear gas. In Marseille, France’s second-largest city, a large number of people also gathered in the city center to celebrate the left’s election victory. Police initially retreated as protesters chanted slogans against right-wing media outlets.