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France's Macron dissolves National Assembly, calls for snap legislative elections after EU vote defeat

Far-right members elected in EU elections
More far-right members elected to European Parliament 01:54

French President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday he was dissolving the National Assembly and calling a snap legislative election after his party suffered a heavy defeat in elections for the European Parliament.

In an address to the nation from the Elysee presidential palace, Macron said: "I've decided to give you back the choice of our parliamentary future through the vote. I am therefore dissolving the National Assembly." The vote will take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7, he said.

The move comes as the first projected results from France on Sunday put the far-right National Rally party of Marine Le Pen well ahead in the European Union's parliamentary election, defeating Macron's pro-European centrists, according to French opinion poll institutes. It is also a massive political risk, since his party could suffer more losses, hobbling the rest of his presidential term that ends in 2027.

Adding insult to injury, the National Rally's lead candidate, Jordan Bardella, all of 28 years old, immediately took on a presidential tone with his victory speech in Paris, opening with "My dear compatriots" and adding that "the French people have given their verdict, and it's final."

France's President Emmanuel Macron
France's President Emmanuel Macron speaking during a televised address to the nation from Paris on June 9, 2024. LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images

Macron acknowledged the thud of defeat. "I've heard your message, your concerns, and I won't leave them unanswered," he said, adding that calling a snap election only underscored his democratic credentials.

The four-day polls in the 27 EU countries were the world's second-biggest exercise in democracy, behind India's recent election. At the end, the rise of the far right was even more stunning than many analysts predicted. The French National Rally stood at just over 30%, or about twice as much as Macron's pro-European centrist Renew party that is projected to reach around 15%.

In Germany, Chancellor Olaf Scholz's long-established Social Democratic party fell behind the extreme-right Alternative for Germany, which surged into second place. Projections indicated that the AfD overcame a string of scandals involving its top candidate to rise to 16.5%, up from 11% in 2019. In comparison, the combined result for the three parties in the German governing coalition barely topped 30%.

These elections come at a testing time for voter confidence in a bloc of some 450 million people. Over the last five years, the EU has been shaken by the coronavirus pandemic, an economic slump and an energy crisis fueled by the biggest land conflict in Europe since the Second World War. But political campaigning often focuses on issues of concern in individual countries rather than on broader European interests.

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