French election: Far right leads in EU vote, Macron calls a snap legislative election

PARIS (AP) — French President Emanuel 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 first projected results from France on Sunday put the far-right National Rally party well ahead in the European Union’s parliamentary election, defeating Macron’s pro-European centrists, according to French opinion poll institutes.

Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration, nationalist party is estimated to get around 31-32% of the votes, more than twice that of Macron’s Renaissance party.

The initial indications are a hard blow for Macron as he tries to lead Europe-wide efforts to defend Ukraine and boost the EU’s own defenses and industry.

The National Rally’s lead candidate, Jordan Bardella, wants to limit free movement of migrants by carrying out national border controls and dial back EU climate rules. The party no longer wants to leave the EU and the euro, but aims to weaken it from within.

“Tonight, our compatriots have expressed a desire for change,” Bardella said.

“Emmanuel Macron is tonight a weakened president,” he added, calling for new national legislative elections to be organized.

First projections also show a resurgence of the Socialist Party, with about 14% of the votes. The party campaigned on more ambitious climate policies and protections for European businesses and workers, with about 14% of the votes.

France is electing 81 members of the European Parliament, which has 720 seats in total.

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