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EuropeThe far-right leads the French legislative elections: a "shock" for the foreign...

The far-right leads the French legislative elections: a “shock” for the foreign press

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In the wake of the far-right’s success in the first round of France’s parliamentary elections, the European and international press on Monday pointed to the scathing “failure” of French President Emmanuel Macron, who was deemed responsible.

On Sunday 30 June 2024, the Rassemblement National (RN, far-right) and its allies came out on top and achieved their best ever first-round election result, with 33.14% of the vote and 10.6 million votes. Followed by the Nouveau Front Populaire (NFP), with 28%, and Emmanuel Macron’s camp, with 20.8% of the vote. Thirty-nine RN candidates – including Marine Le Pen – and thirty-two NFP candidates were elected in the first round.

The German media are not sparing any criticism after the political confusion caused by Emmanuel Macron‘s decision to dissolve the National Assembly on the evening of the European elections. Bild refers to an “electoral earthquake” and a “Le Pen shock for President Macron”.

“The far right beats Macron and shocks Europe” headlines the Spanish daily El Mundo and sums up the feeling of many media on the Old Continent. On Monday 1 July, Spain‘s Socialist Prime Minister said that he remained “hopeful that the French left will mobilise” after the first round of legislative elections, saying that the far right had to be beaten “by governing (…) as Spain has done for six years”.

In Belgium, the media pointed to a day that “will undoubtedly go down in history”.

In the UK, the French parliamentary elections were front-page news in most of the dailies, which were not sparing in their criticism of the executive. “The French right humiliates Macron” wrote The Times. A view shared by the Daily Mail tabloid, which writes that the French head of state has “opened the door to economic and political instability”.

In Italy – home of far-right leader Giorgia Meloni- the country’s leading newspaper Il Corriere della Sera is scathing: “The French right has gone from the heirs of de Gaulle to those of Vichy and French Algeria, a provincial and resentful France that thought itself beaten by history”.
“History will tell whether Macron was the man who delayed this worrying metamorphosis or the one who handed France over to the new right”, the paper sums up.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Monday: “This is really starting to look like a great danger. Not only the results of the first round of the French elections (but also) information about Russian influence, and Russian services, in many radical right-wing parties in Europe“.

In Switzerland, the leading German-language daily TagesAnzeiger headlined: “Le Pen wave wipes out Macron’s aura of power”. It deplores the fact that “the country of the Enlightenment, human rights and cosmopolitanism is drifting further to the right than ever – and perhaps towards darkness, isolation and xenophobia”.
“French democracy is speaking, and it’s frightening”, says an editorial in the leading French-language Swiss daily Le Temps.

The EU is concerned

Officially, the European institutions and authorities have remained silent, and there has been no reaction from Brussels.

The arrival of the Rassemblement National, an anti-European party, at the head of the government of one of the founding members of the EU is feared by Brussels. All the more so as France is both the second largest contributor to the EU budget and its second most populous country. What’s more, power-sharing at the top of the French executive could weaken the position of President Emmanuel Macron, who will continue to sit on the European Council.
Ukraine is a matter of concern for Brussels, as French President Emmanuel Macron is seen as one of Europe’s strongest supporters of Ukraine in its war against Russia, yet the Rassemblement Nationale has never supported Ukraine and has shown its closeness to Russia, whether through loans from Russian banks or when Marine Le Pen was received by President Vladimir Putin.

Seen from the United States – A constitutional and financial crisis in France?
According to CNN, “A far-right government could lead to a financial crisis as well as a constitutional crisis. The RN has made some big-spending promises […] at a time when the French budget could come under heavy fire from Brussels.”

For the American channel CBS: “The Rassemblement National, led by Marine Le Pen and founded by her negationist father, has renounced its anti-Semitic past to play the Islamophobic card for several years, where migrants are presented as a threat, especially to women”. He points out that in Italy Giorgia Meloni has been in power for two years, and that in Germany the far-right AFD party – one of whose leaders was convicted of using a Nazi slogan – achieved a record in the European elections. Soon, Viktor Orban’s Hungary will take over the helm of the Council of the European Union for several months with the slogan “Make Europe great again”, in homage to “his friend” Donald Trump. The question CBS is asking: “What can happen when democracies bring to power leaders who flirt with undemocratic ideas? “

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