France’s centrists had to ally with a powerful left coalition to halt the far right’s fiercest challenge yet.

By David Renton, Truthout

The overwhelming mood in France, following Sunday’s election, was one of relief. In the Place de la République in Paris, a crowd of New Popular Front or Nouveau Front Populaire (NFP) voters — young, clutching Palestinians flags — cheered in delight at the unexpected news. The newspaper Le Monde compared the atmosphere in poor and immigrant districts of Paris to the “thrill of victory in a World Cup final.” Pundits, opinion-formers and business leaders had all predicted a victory for the far right National Rally or Rassemblement National (RN). The assumption of such a triumph was universal — until the people spoke.

In the French parliamentary political system, the prime minister forms a government. To stay in power, it must maintain a majority in the National Assembly. For six months, polls forecasted that the RN would win the election, securing the most votes and most seats. As it happened, the National Rally failed to even come in second, leaving the election with just 143 seats out of 577 in France’s National Assembly, far short of the support it needs to govern.

a small boy sits on his father's shoulders holding the french flag

The main two blocs in the National Assembly after the election will be the left-wing New Popular Front alliance with 182 seats and President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Ensemble alliance, which won 163 seats.

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