France braces for revolution


French far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party President and lead MEP Jordan Bardella attends a visit to the Eurosatory land and air and defense and security trade fair, at the Paris-Nord Villepinte Exhibition Centre in Villepinte, north of Paris, on June 19, 2024. At 28 he could become the youngest French prime minister ever

Polls are open for the second round of the French elections, which may lead to France’s first far-right government since the World War II Nazi occupation.

Here’s what to know:

  • What’s happened to Macron?: After a humbling defeat in the European elections, France’s president called a snap election. 
  • Marine Le Pen stands a chance: Her anti-immigration, nationalist party National Rally could win a majority for the first time.
  • When are the results?: Polling agencies will share projections at 8 p.m. local time (2 p.m. EST), with a final national tally expected by early Monday.
  • More than a dozen reports issued in the past year point to an intensifying effort from Russia to undermine France, particularly the upcoming Olympic Games, and President Emmanuel Macron, who is one of Ukraine’s most vocal supporters in Europe.
  • Some of those campaigns include photos of blood-red hands on a Holocaust memorial. Caskets at the Eiffel Tower. A fake French military recruitment drive called for soldiers in Ukraine, and major French news sites improbably registered in an obscure Pacific territory, with a population of 15,000.
  • All are part of disinformation campaigns orchestrated out of Russia and targeting France, according to French officials and cybersecurity experts in Europe and the United States. France’s legislative elections and the Paris Olympics sent them into overdrive.
  • More than a dozen reports issued in the past year point to an intensifying effort from Russia to undermine France, particularly the upcoming Games, and President Emmanuel Macron, who is one of Ukraine’s most vocal supporters in Europe.

Opposition parties made hurried deals to try to block a landslide victory for Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally in the second round of legislative elections, as she said her party would lead the government only if it won an absolute majority — or close to it.

An unprecedented number of candidates who qualified for round two from the left-wing alliance of the New Popular Front and from President Emmanuel Macron’s weakened centrists have stepped aside to favor the candidate most likely to win against a National Rally opponent.

According to a count by French newspaper Le Monde, some 218 candidates who were eligible to compete in the second round have pulled out. Of those, 130 were on the left, and 82 came from the Macron-led centrist alliance Ensemble.

Macron votes

French President Emmanuel Macron voted in high-stakes legislative elections Sunday that could force him to share power with the rising far right. 

Macron called the surprise vote after the anti-immigration, nationalist National Rally made huge gains in the June 9 European elections, taking a huge gamble that French voters would block the far-right party as they always have in the past.

But the National Rally instead won a larger share than ever in the first round on June 30, and its leader Marine Le Pen called on voters to give the party an absolute majority in Round 2.

Sunday’s vote determines which party controls the National Assembly and who will be prime minister. If no party wins an absolute majority, forming a government comes only after extensive negotiations.

As of noon local time, turnout was at 26.63%, according to France’s interior ministry. That’s slightly higher than the 25.90% reported at the same time during the first round of voting last Sunday.

Parisians worry about the future 

Voters at a Paris polling station were acutely aware of the elections’ far-reaching consequences for France and beyond.

“The individual freedoms, tolerance, and respect for others what is at stake today,” said Thomas Bertrand, a 45-year-old voter who works in advertising.

He voted at a school where, as at all French schools, the national motto “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” was displayed prominently.

Pierre Lubin, a 45-year-old business manager, was worried about whether the elections would produce an effective government.

“This is a concern for us,” Lubin said. “Will it be a technical government or a coalition government made up of (different) political forces?”

Even with the outcome still in doubt, Valerie Dodeman, a 55-year-old legal expert, said she is pessimistic about the future of France.

“No matter what happens, I think this election will leave people disgruntled on all sides,” Dodeman said.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal cast his ballot in the Paris suburb of Vanves Sunday morning. 

Across France, 76 candidates secured seats in the first round, including 39 from Le Pen’s National Rally, 32 from the leftist New Popular Front alliance, and two candidates from Macron’s centrist list.

Bardella at 28 could become the youngest French prime minister

At just 28 years old, Jordan Bardella has helped make the far-right National Rally the strongest political force in France. And now he could become the country’s youngest prime minister.

After voters propelled Marine Le Pen’s National Rally to a strong lead in the first round of snap legislative elections, Bardella turned to rallying supporters to hand their party an absolute majority in the decisive second round that would allow the anti-immigration, nationalist party to run the government, with Bardella at the helm.

Bardella is part of a generation of young people who joined the party under Marine Le Pen in the 2010s but likely wouldn’t have done so under her father.




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