Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party has turned its attention to June’s parliamentary elections after its defeat in the presidential contest, vowing to field candidates in every constituency and claiming the electoral system is stacked against it.
“We’ve been preparing for a very long time for these elections,” said the acting party president, Jordan Bardella. “It’s essential our ideas are defended in the assembly.” He said his party would take a stand on security, immigration and French identity issues in parliament, as well as taxes. “People have to vote,” he said on the CNews TV channel. “We need an opposition.”
Le Pen was beaten by the centrist Emmanuel Macron in Sunday’s presidential election by 58.5% to 41.5%, but she gained a historic score for the far right, with more than 13m votes. She will run again in the parliamentary elections in June and is likely to keep her seat in the Pas-de-Calais area in northern France.
Her party has in the past struggled to translate its high number of votes in the presidential election into seats in parliament. This is partly due to a two-round parliamentary voting system that does not favor small parties, as well as tactical voting to keep out the far right. Abstention is also traditionally far higher in parliamentary elections than in presidential elections, which has had a negative impact on the National Rally’s results.
In 2017, the year of the last parliamentary election, Le Pen won more than 10m votes in the presidential final against Macron, but weeks later her party and its associated lawmakers won only eight seats in the 577-seat parliament. The party believes its chances are better this June because last Sunday’s presidential vote showed Le Pen had expanded her support for her across a greater geographical area, including a strong showing in the south-east as well as the north and north-east.
“We’re in a very different situation this time because we arrived first in 159 constituencies [in the presidential vote] compared to 45 in 2017,” said Gilles Pennelle, a party delegate who is expected to be a candidate in Brittany.
The party has not fixed a public target of how many seats it wants to win. Several party figures have said they hope to win at least enough to form a parliamentary grouping, which would mean at least 15 seats. A National Rally parliamentary grouping, if headed by Le Pen, would give her a bigger platform and higher visibility, useful if she decides to run for a fourth time for the presidency in 2027, which is not yet clear.
In recent parliamentary elections that follow the presidential vote, the party of the newly elected president has always won a majority.
A poll on Monday by Harris Interactive suggested Macron would secure a ruling majority, winning 326 to 366 seats out of 577, if he manages to strike a broad centre-right alliance with smaller parties including the rightwing Les Républicains.
But an Elabe poll on Wednesday found that 61% of French people wanted a parliamentary majority that was opposed to Macron. The radical leftwinger Jean-Luc Mélenchon is attempting to form an alliance of parties on the left in an attempt to gain a maximum of seats. His party from him, France Unbowed, currently has 17 seats in parliament.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism