Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally party, seems to have finished top in European elections in France on Sunday, dealing a hard blow to pro-European President Emmanuel Macron.
Le Pen’s National Rally apparently gained around 24-24.2 percent, while Macron’s centrist alliance followed with 22.5-23.0 percent, according to exit polls from Harris Interactive-Agence Epoka and Ifop-Fiducial.
The head of the National Rally campaign, 23-year-old Jordan Bardella, called the results a “failure” for the ruling party and proceeded to elaborate on Macron’s defeat, saying it’s a clear rejection by voters of his pro-business agenda in France and pro-EU vision.
“The gains for our allies in Europe and the emergence of new forces across the continent… open the way for the formation of a powerful group in the European parliament,” Bardella said in his address to cheering supporters.
Le Pen called for the head of state to dissolve the parliament and call new elections, a proposal that was immediately rejected by the current government.
“It is up to the president of the republic to draw conclusions, he who put his presidential credit on the line in this vote in making it a referendum on his policies and even his personality,” she said.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the results only confirm the “redrawing” of French politics, similar to those seen in the presidential election in 2017, back when France’s traditional parties were eclipsed by Macron’s new centrist movement politics.
Macron kept no secret of the significance he gave to the results, telling regional French newspapers last week that the EU elections were the most important in the past four decades, as the union is faced with an “existential threat”.
The results would underline the continuing and growing difficulties of France’s traditional center-right Republicans party, which is seen winning 8-8.1 percent, and the center-left alliance including the Socialist Party on just 6.3-6.5 percent.