Macron dissolves the French parliament and calls a snap election after defeat in EU vote

President Emmanuel Macron dissolved the lower house of France's parliament in a surprise announcement sending voters back to the polls in the coming weeks to choose lawmakers, after his party was handed a humbling defeat by the far-right in the European elections Sunday.
French President Emmanuel Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron

Paris | President Emmanuel Macron dissolved the lower house of France's parliament in a surprise announcement sending voters back to the polls in the coming weeks to choose lawmakers, after his party was handed a humbling defeat by the far-right in the European elections Sunday.

The legislative elections will take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7.

The announcement came after the first projected results from France put the far-right National Rally party well ahead in the European Union's parliamentary elections, handing a chastening loss to Macron's pro-European centrists, according to French opinion poll institutes.

Marine Le Pen's anti-immigration, nationalist party was estimated to get around 31-32 per cent of the votes, a historic result more than double the share of Macron's Renaissance party, which was projected to reach around 15 per cent.

Macron himself wasn't a candidate in the EU elections and his term as president still runs for three more years.

He said the decision was “serious” but showed his “confidence in our democracy, in letting the sovereign people have their say.” “In the next few days, I'll be saying what I think is the right direction for the nation. I've heard your message, your concerns, and I won't leave them unanswered,” he said.

In latest legislative elections in 2022, Macron's centrist party won the most seats but lost its majority at the National Assembly, forcing lawmakers into political maneuvering to pass bills.

With Sunday's decision, he is taking a big risk with a move that could backfire and increase the chances of Le Pen to eventually take power.

A scenario in which an opposition party would eventually win a parliament majority could lead to a fraught power-sharing situation called “cohabitation,” with Macron to name a prime minister with different views.

Le Pen, who head the National Rally group at the National Assembly, “welcomed” Macron's move.

'We're ready for it,” said Le Pen, who was the runner-up to Macron in the last two presidential elections. “We're ready to exercise power if the French people place their trust in us in these future legislative elections. We're ready to turn the country around, ready to defend the interests of the French, ready to put an end to mass immigration, ready to make the purchasing power of the French a priority.” The EU elections results were a hard blow for Macron, who has been advocating for Europe-wide efforts to defend Ukraine and the need for the EU to boost its own defences and industry.

The National Rally's lead candidate for the EU elections, Jordan Bardella, campaigned for limiting free movement of migrants by carrying out national border controls and dialing back EU climate rules. The party no longer wants to leave the EU and the euro, but aims to weaken it from within.

“Tonight, our compatriots have expressed a desire for change,” Bardella said. “Emmanuel Macron is tonight a weakened president.“ An official at Macron's office said the decision to dissolve the National Assembly was justified by the “historic score of the far-right” that could not be ignored and the current “parliamentarian disorder." “You're never wrong when you give the people a say,” said the official, who spoke anonymously in line with the practice of Macron's office.

EU elections' projections also show a resurgence of the Socialist Party, with about 14% of the votes. The party campaigned on more ambitious climate policies and protections for European businesses and workers, with about 14% of the votes.

Reacting to Macron's announcement, far-left politician Francois Ruffin called on all leaders from the left, including the Greens to unite under a single “Popular Front” banner. “To avoid the worse, to win,” he wrote on X.

France is electing 81 members of the European Parliament, which has 720 seats in total.

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