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‘We have saved the Republic!’ -New Popular Front claims victory over both Macron and Le Pen

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The main exit poll puts the left-wing New Popular Front on course to be the biggest bloc in the French National Assembly, following the second round of voting in the snap election called by President Macron. The poll by Ipsos for France Télévisions projects between 172 and 192 seats for the NPF, 150-170 for Emmanuel Macro’s Ensemble alliance, and 132-152 for Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, which was in the lead after the first round of voting a week ago.

The 57-67 deputies for the Republicans, successors to the Gaullists, are expected to be divided between those who would support Le Pen’s choice of Prime Minister, Jordan Bardella and those who would always vote against a party they perceive as a fundamental threat to the Fifth Republic, founded by Charles De Gaulle.

As soon as the poll was published, Jean Luc Mélenchon, leader of the New Popular Front, proclaimed that they had “saved the Republic”. Much of his fire was directed at President Macron, widely criticised for having called the election in the first place. He called on him to recognise his defeat and not to try to circumvent it in any way.

“It is the President’s duty to call on the New Popular Front to run the country”, he said. He added that a coalition with parties outside the NPF bloc was not acceptable, although it is not heading for an overall majority of the 577 seats in the National Assembly. They would not negotiate but seek to implement their manifesto, which promises a better deal for workers and higher taxes for the rich.

Most of the NPF’s seats will be held by deputies from Mélenchon’s France Unbowed party and from the Socialists, led by Oliver Faure. He spoke soon after Mélenchon and said there should be a government with “only one programme, the programme of the New Popular Front.

Mr Faure warned the Republicans and the deputies from the President’s Ensemble alliance the “they should never vote alongside the far right, to prevent the New Popular Front running the country”.

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Jordan Bardella told supporters who had gathered expecting to celebrate a National Rally victory that an “unnatural” and “dishonourable alliance” had “deprived the French people”. He was referring to the practice, long established in French politics, where third-placed candidates from parties opposed to the far right stand down in favour of candidates better placed to defeat the National Rally and its predecessor parties.

“Tonight, these alliances throw France into the arms of the far left of Jean-Luc Mélenchon”, Jordan Bardella said. Nevertheless he claimed that by doubling its number of deputies in the National Assembly, his party had laid “the cornerstones of tomorrow’s victory”. It was a sentiment echoed by Marine Le Pen when she spoke, “victory has only been delayed”, she said.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, who is part of the Ensemble alliance has said that he will hand his resignation to Emmanuel Macron. The President himself is not expected to speak straightaway, a statement issued on his behalf said will first analyse the results and then “will respect the choice of the French people”.

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