France’s far-right seen falling short of majority in run-off, poll shows

By Dominique Vidalon

PARIS (Reuters) -Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) will not win a majority of seats in next Sunday’s parliamentary run-off election, according to a poll on Wednesday, suggesting efforts by French mainstream parties to block the far right might work.

A Harris Interactive poll for Challenges magazine – the first to be published after politicians across party lines formed an anti-RN front – showed the RN would fall short of the 289 seats required to control the 577-seat National Assembly.

The RN and its allies would get just 190 to 220 seats, according to the poll, while the centre-right Republicans (LR) would win 30 to 50 seats. This could rule out the possibility of a far-right minority government supported by part of the LR parliamentary group.

“The result of the withdrawals is a clear step back for RN,” Challenges reporter Remi Clement wrote on X.

The poll was published after more than 200 candidates across the political spectrum withdrew their candidacies to clear the path for whoever was best placed to defeat the RN candidate in their voting district, in a process known as the “republican front.”

Before the withdrawals, pollsters had calculated the first round put the RN on track for 250-300 seats.

Asked if she feared the RN would fall short of the 289 figure required for an absolute majority, Le Pen told TF1 TV: “No, I am very confident. French people have a real desire for change.”


After the withdrawals, there were 92 three or four-way battles to come, according to a Reuters tally. Three-way votes favour the RN, while two-way contests are seen as better for the anti-RN alliance, experts say.

The Harris poll showed that the leftist New Popular Front alliance would win 159 to 183 seats, while President Emmanuel Macron’s Together alliance would win just 110 to 135 seats.

Various other parties would win 17 to 31 seats.

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, a close ally of Macron, said earlier on Wednesday that he believed the cross-party bid to deprive the far-right RN of a majority could succeed.

However, he dismissed suggestions that Macron’s centrists could look to form a cross-party government in the event of a hung parliament, proposing that moderates in the assembly worked together to pass legislation on a case-by-case basis instead.

“What these withdrawals show is that we can avoid an absolute majority for the far right,” Attal told France Inter radio.

“I hope the (Macron-allied) Ensemble camp is a big as possible,” he said. “After that we will seek to secure majorities on a project-by-project basis.”

In a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Macron rejected the option of a coalition that would include the far-left France Unbowed (LFI) party of Jean-Luc Melenchon, one participant said. It was unclear if he mentioned other coalition options.

Their comments underline that, even if the RN does not come to power, France could face months of political uncertainty through to the end of Macron’s term in 2027, when RN’s Le Pen is widely expected to mount a challenge for the presidency itself.

The question remains whether voters will go along with the effort to block the anti-immigrant, eurosceptic RN. Centrist voters may baulk at supporting a far-left rival to the RN, while many left-wing supporters are so disillusioned with Macron that they will not stomach backing someone from his alliance.

Le Pen has said she could reach out to other parties if the RN falls short of an absolute majority. Her prime ministerial pick Jordan Bardella has said he would decline to form a government without a sufficiently strong mandate.

The RN came out well ahead in Sunday’s first-round vote after Macron’s gamble on a snap election backfired, leaving his centrist camp in a lowly third place behind the RN and a hastily formed left-wing alliance.

Le Pen has worked for years to soften the image of the RN, but rights groups cite concerns about its “national preference” and anti-migrant policies, while its profound euroscepticism would pose serious threats to future European integration.

It has signalled plans to reverse Macron’s reforms, such as his unpopular move to increase the retirement age, but economists question whether RN spending plans are fully funded.

Financial markets were reassured by the bid to create a so-called “republican front” against Le Pen’s party, lowering the risk premium on France’s sovereign debt.

“The strategy would significantly limit the chances of Le Pen winning an outright majority,” Jefferies chief Europe economist Mohit Kumar said in a note.

The National Rally has attacked the cross-party bid to block it as anti-democratic and an attempt to undermine voters’ wishes. Bardella told Le Figaro newspaper: “The real ‘republican front’ – that is us.”

(Writing by Mark John and Geert De Clercq; Editing by Sharon Singleton, Bernadette Baum and Deepa Babington)






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