French leftists win most seats in elections: pollsters


A leftist alliance has unexpectedly taken top spot in the French polls, according to projections.
A leftist alliance has unexpectedly taken top spot in the French polls, according to projections.

A coalition on the left that came together unexpectedly ahead of France’s snap elections won the most parliamentary seats in the vote, according to polling projections.

The surprise projections just after the polls closed on Sunday evening put President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance in second place and the far right in third.

Soon afterwards, French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said he plans to resign.

Attal said he will remain in post during the upcoming Paris Olympics and for as long as needed, given that polling projections show that no party has won an outright majority.

There will likely be weeks of intense political negotiations to choose a new prime minister and form a government.

The lack of majority for any single alliance plunged France into political and economic turmoil.

Final results are not expected until late on Sunday or early Monday in the highly volatile snap election, which was called just four weeks ago in a huge gamble for Macron.

The polling projections are based on the actual vote count in select constituencies.

Macron’s office said the president would “wait for the new National Assembly to organise itself” before making any decisions.

The deeply unpopular president lost control of parliament, according to the projections.

Marine Le Pen’s far right drastically increased the number of seats it holds in parliament but fell far short of expectations.

The president of France’s far-right National Rally claimed historic gains for the party and blamed Macron for “pushing France into uncertainty and instability”.

In a sombre speech after the second-round legislative election, Jordan Bardella denounced the political manoeuvring that led the National Rally to fall far short of expectations.

An unprecedented number of candidates who qualified for the runoff stepped aside to allow an opponent to go head-to-head with the National Rally candidate, increasing the chances of defeating them.

Despite projections widely considered disappointing for the anti-immigration, nationalist party, it still increased its seat count in parliament to an unprecedented high, according to polling projections.

“Tonight, by deliberately taking the responsibility to paralyse our institutions, Emmanuel Macron … is consequently depriving the French people of any responses to their daily problems for many months to come,” Bardella said.

The snap legislative elections in this nuclear-armed nation and major economy will influence the war in Ukraine, global diplomacy and Europe’s economic stability.

France now faces the prospect of weeks of political machinations to determine who will be prime minister and lead the National Assembly.

And Macron faces the prospect of leading the country alongside a prime minister opposed to most of his domestic policies.

French leftist leader Jean-Luc Melenchon called the projections an “immense relief for a majority of people in our country” and he demanded the resignation of the prime minister.

Melenchon is the most prominent of the leftist leaders who unexpectedly came together ahead of the two-round elections.

The projections, if confirmed by official counts expected later on Sunday or early on Monday, plunge a pillar of the European Union and its second-largest economy into intense uncertainty, with no clarity about who might partner with Macron as prime minister in governing France.

The timing of France’s leap into the political unknown could hardly be worse: With the Paris Olympics opening in less than three weeks, the country will be grappling with domestic instability when the eyes of the world are upon it.

For 46-year-old Macron’s centrists, the legislative elections have turned into a fiasco.

He stunned France, and many in his own government, by dissolving parliament’s lower house, the National Assembly, after the far right surged in French voting for the European elections.

with AP and PA