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French people vote en masse for crucial elections

Photo: Jeff Pachoud Agence France-Presse Voters show up to vote in the second round of the French legislative elections at a polling station in Lyon on Sunday July 7.

Didier Lauras – Agence France-Presse in Paris

Posted at 8:06 a.m. Updated at 8:35 a.m.

  • Europe

The French were strongly mobilized on Sunday for the second round of historic legislative elections, from which the far-right party could emerge victorious without obtaining an absolute majority in the Assembly, which risks paralysis.

The turnout rate was up on Sunday at 10am GMT to 26.63%, the highest figure for legislative elections since those of 1981 (28.3%), who had brought the left to power.

The country is grappling with a deleterious atmosphere, marked by insults, physical attacks on candidates and poster hangers, and the release of racist and anti-Semitic speech.

Faced with possible disturbances on Sunday evening, 30,000 police officers will be mobilized, including 5,000 in Paris.

“There is a lot of tension, people are going crazy,” commented Laurence Abbad, a 66-year-old retiree in Tourcoing, who fears violence in the evening after the results are announced.

A few kilometers away, in Lille, Cécile Artis, a 59-year-old senior executive, is worried about “the polarization of public opinion,” while in the small town of Rosheim near Strasbourg, Antoine Schrameck, a 72-year-old retiree, says he is “anxious”: “We are at a turning point in the history of the Republic.”

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Tightening of the three blocks

The polling stations opened on Sunday at 6 a.m. GMT in mainland France, while already voted on Saturday the voters of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, Guyana, the West Indies, as well as Polynesia and New Caledonia in the South Pacific.

In large metropolitan cities, they will remain open until 6 p.m. GMT, the time of publication of the first estimates.

The first results have been received in certain overseas territories , which in no way presumes a national trend. In Guadeloupe, the four outgoing independent and left-wing deputies return to their seats. In Martinique and Guyana, the left won.

President Emmanuel Macron plunged France into the unknown by deciding on June 9 to dissolve the National Assembly after its debacle in the European elections.

In the first round, the French put the far-right National Rally (RN) party — and its allies from the right-wing LR party — in the lead by a wide margin (33%), ahead of the left-wing New Popular Front (NFP, 28%), and the center-right presidential camp (20%).

On Friday, the polls seemed to show a tightening between the three blocs: the far-right would obtain between 170 and 210 seats in the second round, for an absolute majority set at 289 deputies. They would be closely followed by the NFP (155 to 185), followed by the Macronists (95 to 125).

“Populist temptations”

But the pollsters were showing a certain caution, because no one knows which force will benefit from the very high turnout.

Around “fifty constituencies are being played out in a very close race,” argued the deputy president of the Ipsos polling institute, Brice Teinturier.

More than 200 candidates from the left and center have withdrawn, dozens of three-way races, which seemed favorable to the RN after the first round, have suddenly turned into much tighter duels.

“Today the danger is a majority dominated by the extreme right and that would be a catastrophic project,” warned Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, head of the camp's campaign presidential.

The leader of the far right, Marine Le Pen, denounced the maneuvers of a “single party” by “those who want to retain power against the will of the people”.

If she succeeds in her bet and obtains a sufficient majority, it is her foal Jordan Bardella, 28, who would enter Matignon with a strong anti-immigration program. This would be the first government from the extreme right in France since the Second World War.

The hypothesis has aroused fears among certain major European partner countries of France , worried to see a Eurosceptic party known to be close to Vladimir Putin's Russia come to power in one of the pillars of the European Union.

Without naming any country in particular, Pope Francis warned Sunday against “ideological and populist temptations.”

The uncertainty is such that Gabriel Attal declared that his government was ready to ensure the continuity of the State “as long as necessary”. So to deal with current affairs while waiting for the formation of a new team, while Paris is hosting the Olympic Games in three weeks.

Requested about a possible speaking engagement of the head of state after 8 p.m., his entourage indicated to AFP that “nothing had been decided” for the moment and “everything [would] depend on the results”.

With the political service of Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116