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An exit poll showed Macron's Renaissance party scraping to second place in the European Parliament elections. (Sameer Al-Doumy/AFP/Getty Images via CNN Newsource)

France: Macron calls snap election

June 10, 2024

By Niamh Kennedy, Christian Edwards and Xiaofei Xu, CNN

(CNN) — France’s President Emmanuel Macron has dissolved the country’s parliament, the National Assembly, and called a snap election after an exit poll showed his Renaissance party is set to be trounced by the far-right opposition in European parliamentary elections on Sunday.

After initial projections, the far-right National Rally (RN) party came out on top with 31.5% of the vote, more than double the share of Renaissance, which scraped into second place on 15.2% of the vote, just ahead of the Socialists in third with 14.3% of the vote.

In a celebratory speech after the publication of the exit poll, RN leader Jordan Bardella had called on Macron to dissolve the French parliament, calling the gap between the two parties a “stinging disavowal” for the president.

“This unprecedented defeat for the current government marks the end of a cycle, and Day 1 of the post-Macron era,” Bardella told a raucous audience at RN’s headquarters.

Within an hour, Macron made a national address, announcing he would dissolve the French lower house and hold parliamentary elections. The first round will be held on June 30, with a second round on July 7, Macron said.

“I have decided to give you back the choice of your parliamentary future by voting. I am therefore dissolving the National Assembly this evening,” Macron said in the shock announcement.

“This decision is serious, heavy. But it is above all, an act of trust. Trust in you, my dear compatriots. In the capacity of the French people to make the most just decision,” the French president added.

Under the French system, parliamentary elections are held to elect the 577 members of the lower house, the National Assembly. Separate elections are held to choose the country’s president, which are not scheduled again until 2027.

In the last set of parliamentary elections held in 2022, the Ensemble coalition including Macron’s Renaissance party fell short of an overall majority and were forced to seek help from elsewhere.

Speaking after Macron’s announcement, Marine Le Pen – who ran unsuccessfully against Macron for the French presidency in 2017 and 2022, but whose RN party has since enjoyed a resurgence in the polls – said she welcomed his decision to hold elections.

“We are ready to take power if the French place their trust in us,” said Le Pen, now the parliamentary leader of RN.

“We are ready to rebuild the country, ready to defend the interests of the French, ready to put an end to mass immigration, ready to make the purchasing power of the French a priority, ready to begin the reindustrialization of the country,” she said.

Since the beginning of his second term in 2022, Macron has been ruling with a relative majority, forcing him to invoke Article 49.3 of the French constitution several times – pushing legislation through parliament without a vote, to the increasing displeasure of opposition lawmakers and much of the French public.

The last time a French president dissolved parliament was in 1997, which led to Jacques Chirac losing his majority and ushering the Socialists into power under Lionel Jospin.

An Élysée source close to Macron, who asked to remain anonymous, told CNN the predicted results showed there is a “republican majority” in France made up of those who “don’t agree with the far-right ideas.”

“We should never be afraid of the French people,” the source said. “Convince, convince, convince – that is the spirit that the presidential majority will take up.”

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