Le Pen’s Far Right Scores Narrow Win over Macron in France’s EU Elections
The National Rally (National Front) has repeated its victory from the 2014 EU elections in France.
The National Rally (formerly the National Front) of Marine Le Pen has beaten French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist movement by a narrow lead in the 2019 EU parliament elections in France.
Le Pen’s National Rally won a little over 23% in Sunday’s EU vote, while Macron’s République en Marche (the Republic on the Move) came in second place with a little over 22% in a blow to the French President who personally got involved in the campaign.
The EU elections in France saw a surprisingly highly score for the Green Party, Europe Écologie Les Verts, with 13.1%, France24 reported.
At the same time, the mainstream right, Les Républicains, won just 8.4%, their worst ever showing in an election. The French Socialists remained fifth with 6.6 %.
The far right’s win over Macron is widely seen as a recovery from Marine Le Pen’s loss of the second round in France’s 2017 presidential elections.
Le Pen reacted to the results by styling them a “victory for the people”, and called on Macron to dissolve the French parliament.
“There is of course some disappointment,” French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said, arguing, however, that the EU vote would not affect the reform impetus of Macron’s government.
“But the score is absolutely honorable compared to how incumbents did in previous European elections. There was no sanction,” he added.
While the far right won Sunday’s vote by a small margin, analysts have pointed out that it has failed to do better than it did in the EU elections back in 2014 when it also came in first, back then as the National Front. Back then, the sitting President Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party came in only third, with 14%.
23-year-old Jordan Bardella, who topped the NR’s electoral list and now becomes the youngest MEP in the history of the European Parliament, has declared the EU election in France a “referendum on Macron”.
Macron styled the 2019 EU vote as one of “populists versus progressives” and the Union’s most important election since its first back in 1979. Back in March, he called for a “European renaissance” in an open letter.
The far right is also believed to have capitalized on anti-government sentiments fueled by the months of Yellow Vest protests in France, with Macron’s “Great National Debate” failing to quell discontent.
“The Yellow Vest crisis and the Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen duel helped to set up Jordan Bardella’s list as the main receptacle for anger and anti-Macron voting,” Jérôme Fourquet, director of the Ifop polling Institute, told AFP.
Against the backdrop of the UK’s Brexit quagmire, Le Pen, in the meantime, shifted her election platform from wanting to leave the EU to wanting to reform it from the inside.
“For us, the fight is not over. We will conduct it in the European Parliament, to prevent nationalists from weakening France and blocking progress the French people expect,” said former European Affairs Minister, Nathalie Loiseau, Macron’s frontrunner in the 2019 EU election list.
(Banner image: Jordan Bardella on Twitter)