Elections in France: Le Pen’s party gets its own group by reaching its best result in a legislative | International

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It has won fewer deputies than macronism or the left-wing alliance NUPES, but the far-right leader Marine Le Pen celebrated this Sunday as a real victory the results of the second round of the legislative elections in France, which have given her party , National Rally (RN), between 80 and 85 seats, according to the first projections. It is not for less: the ultra formation will be able to form its own parliamentary group -for which at least 15 deputies are required- for the first time in three decades. It also becomes the third force in the National Assembly, in a chamber in which until now it had a marginal presence of six deputies. His results exceed all the forecasts of the demographic institutes, which predicted a range of between 25 and 50 seats.

Until now, despite its constant increase in votes, RN was a party that could not truly touch institutional power, whether national, regional or local, where it only runs a handful of cities, mostly small. The results of this Sunday, however, could indicate a change in that scenario.

“We will embody a firm, responsible opposition, respectful of the institutions,” Le Pen promised this Sunday from his fief of Hénin Beaummont, in the north of the country, where he revalidated his seat. According to the leader of RN, with these results their formation fulfills its objectives: “To make Emmanuel Macron a minority president, to continue the indispensable political recomposition and to constitute a determining group against those responsible for deconstruction from above, the Macronists, and from below, the extreme left” of NUPES.

The interim president of the RN, Jordan Bardella, also celebrated what he called an electoral “tsunami”. “We will be the true opposition force,” he said, referring to the fact that NUPES has different positions on many key issues that could divide its alliance in the hemicycle.

In its almost five decades of existence, the far-right party had only managed to have its own parliamentary group once, between 1986 and 1988, after winning 32 seats. Back then, the party was still called the National Front and was led by Marine Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie. But, above all, the proportional system was still in force and not the current one, a two-round majority, which has consistently made it possible to stop extreme candidates by activating the Republican front or cordon sanitaire against the extreme right. Until now.

The results of the legislative elections represent a resounding boost to a Marine Le Pen who, after the debacle of the 2017 legislative elections, many had declared politically dead. Despite the fact that it also reached the final of the presidential elections, the then still National Front (Le Pen changed its name after the legislative debacle), barely managed eight deputies that ended up with six at the end of the five-year period. A pyrrhic figure in view of the strength of her vote (more than 10 million French people had voted a few weeks before for Le Pen to be president; in the last presidential elections in April, she received up to 13.2 million votes, 41.45 % of votes).

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She was declared a political corpse again this fall, when a rival came out on the right flank: the even more extreme Éric Zemmour, a controversial talk show host who intended to take over the space of the right and the extreme right of France. His harsh speech marked a good part of the agenda of many presidential candidates and it seemed that his party, Reconquista, would end up engulfing RN. Important figures in Le Pen’s party, including his niece and former dauphin, Marion Maréchal, joined the Zemmourist ranks.

But half a year later, the landscape has changed drastically again. Zemmour was fourth – and eliminated – in the presidential elections. His calls to join forces with the RN in the legislative elections were ignored by Le Pen and eventually no Reconquista candidate, not even Zemmour, managed to qualify for the second round.

For the political scientist Vincent Martigny, what has happened so far with RN represented a “democratic anomaly” barely corrected with the surprise results of this Sunday: that it has obtained 42% of the votes in the second round of the presidential elections and, even so, it does not is the second parliamentary force, has been left behind NUPES, with just a few more deputies than parties like the conservative Los Republicanos (LR), which came fifth in the presidential elections. “Can not be. You cannot fight the crisis of representation with a system” that allows these differences, he had told EL PAÍS on the eve of the legislative elections.

An anomaly that, for now, still transcends the borders of the parliamentary chamber. Because Marine Le Pen’s RN continues to have a central problem: her electoral muscle does not really transform into institutional power. He alone governs in a city of more than 100,000 inhabitants, Perpignan. Last year, he failed to finally seize power in at least one region. And the only senator he had, Stéphane Ravier, joined Zemmour at the beginning of the year.

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