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French President Macron Calls a Snap Legislative Election after Defeat in EU Vote

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday he was dissolving the National Assembly and calling a snap legislative election after his party suffered a heavy defeat in elections for the European Parliament.

In an address to the nation from the Elysee presidential palace, Macron said: “I’ve decided to give you back the choice of our parliamentary future through the vote. I am therefore dissolving the National Assembly.” The vote will take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7, he said.

The move comes as first projected results from France on Sunday put the far-right National Rally party well ahead in the European Union’s parliamentary election, defeating Macron’s pro-European centrists, according to French opinion poll institutes.

Macron announced the move after the first projected results from France put the far-right National Rally party well ahead in the European Union’s parliamentary election, handing a chastening loss to Macron’s pro-European centrists, according to French opinion poll institutes.

Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration, nationalist party is estimated to get around 31-32% of the votes, a historic result more than double the share of Macron’s Renaissance party, which is projected to reach around 15%.

Macron, who lost his majority at the National Assembly in 2022, is taking a big risk with the move that could backfire and increase the chances of Le Pen to eventually take power.

The French president said the decision was “serious” but showed his “confidence in our democracy, in letting the sovereign people have their say.”

“In the next few days, I’ll be saying what I think is the right direction for the nation. I’ve heard your message, your concerns, and I won’t leave them unanswered,” he said.

French far-right National Rally lead candidate Jordan Bardella delivers a speech at the party election night headquarters, Sunday, June 9, 2024 in Paris. First projected results from France put far-right National Rally party well ahead in EU elections, according to French opinion poll institutes. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)

The initial indications are a hard blow for Macron, who has been advocating for Europe-wide efforts to defend Ukraine and the need for the EU to boost its own defenses and industry.

The National Rally’s lead candidate for the EU election, Jordan Bardella, wants to limit free movement of migrants by carrying out national border controls and dial back EU climate rules. The party no longer wants to leave the EU and the euro, but aims to weaken it from within.

“Tonight, our compatriots have expressed a desire for change,” Bardella said. “Emmanuel Macron is tonight a weakened president.”

First projections also showed a resurgence of the center-left Socialist Party, with about 14% of the votes. The party campaigned on more ambitious climate policies and protections for European businesses and workers.

France is electing 81 members of the European Parliament, which has 720 seats in total.

The National Rally has been the lead party in the two previous EU elections, yet its tally this year rose substantially compared to 2019 when it got 23% of the votes, just one point ahead of Macron’s party.

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