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National Rally in third place, exit polls predict

National Rally in third place, exit polls predict

France is heading for a hung parliament after exit polls predicted a shock victory for the country’s left-wing alliance and a third place finish for Marine Le Pen’s National Rally.

According to the major TV channels, the New Popular Front, formed less than three weeks ago by the three main left-wing parties, is expected to clinch between 172 and 215 seats. To gain an absolute majority a party would need 289 seats in the National Assembly.

President Macron’s centrist alliance Ensemble is predicted to win between 150 and 175 seats.

The National Rally, which had come out on top in the first round, and its allies, are expecting to get between 115 and 150 seats.

Follow our updates for all results and reactions.

President Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, at a polling station in Le Touquet, northern France

President Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, at a polling station in Le Touquet, northern France

MOHAMMED BADRA/EPA

Foreign secretary rules out deal with hard left

Stéphane Séjourné, President Macron’s minister for Europe and foreign affairs, has ruled out a deal with Jean-Luc Mélenchon and his allies, saying they “cannot govern France”.

He said the Renaissance party would be “uncompromising in its defence of republican principles, in particular secularism, and in the fight against racism and antisemitism”, as well as “resolutely pursuing European integration and maintaining support for Ukraine in the face of Russia”.

Hollande and Borne re-elected

Results are beginning to come in with some leading figures re-elected.

Élisabeth Borne, the prime minister, has been re-elected in Calvados after 96.9 per cent of the vote has been counted.

François Hollande, the former president, will also return to the National Assembly after being elected in Corrèze.

Former PM urges to exclude radical parties

Édouard Philippe served as Macron’s prime minister from 2017 until 2020

Édouard Philippe served as Macron’s prime minister from 2017 until 2020

CHRISTIAN HARTMANN/POOL/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Édouard Philippe, who was prime minister under Macron until 2020, has called on France’s political forces to come together in an “agreement” that would exclude Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s hard-left France Unbowed and the National Rally.

The dissolution of parliament “has led to a great deal of indeterminacy”, he said.

“The credibility of our country could be affected and the central political forces must without compromise come to an agreement to stabilise politics but without France Unbowed and the NR.”

Darmanin: no one can say they have won

Gérald Darmanin was among the first to self-declare winning his seat

Gérald Darmanin was among the first to self-declare winning his seat

STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Gérald Darmanin, the interior minister, has said no one can say they have won the election.

“I note that today, no one can say they have won this parliamentary election, especially not Mr Mélenchon,” he said.

Darmanin was also one of the first to self-declare winning his seat.

National Rally to join Patriots for Europe bloc

Jordan Bardella has announced that the National Rally will join a new pan-EU hard-line nationalist bloc, called Patriots for Europe (Bruno Waterfield writes).

Thanks to the French, the new grouping will have at least 70 MEPs more than the Greens and snapping at the heels of President Macron’s “Renew” liberal bloc.

He said the group “will have an influence on the balance of power in Europe, rejecting the flood of migrants, punitive ecology, and confiscation of our sovereignty”.

Founded by Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, last week, the new bloc has grown quickly.

This weekend it reached the threshold to qualify as bloc in the European Parliament with Geert Wilders and his hard-right Freedom party, the Flemish nationalist Vlaams Belang,
Portugal’s Chega party, Spain’s Vox and the Danish People’s Party.

Macron lays low until results are clear

President Macron will wait for the full picture to emerge before taking the necessary decisions, according to the Élysée Palace.

“The president, as guarantor of our institutions, will respect the choice of French people,” the statement added.

Relief sweeps the streets as exit poll is revealed

Supporters of the Green party, part of the New Popular Front, celebrate the exit poll predictions

Supporters of the Green party, part of the New Popular Front, celebrate the exit poll predictions

ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

French television was awash with footage of people hugging each other and crying on the streets after the exit poll was revealed (Constance Kampfner writes).

Among those to share their “relief” was the footballer Jules Koundé, who plays in the French Euros squad.

“Congratulations to all French people who rallied round to ensure that the beautiful country of France would not be governed by the far right,” he wrote on Twitter/X.

The Barcelona player had previously called on people to vote against Marine Le Pen’s party, alongside Kylian Mbappé, who had branded the results of the first round “catastrophic”.

Nothing can stop the people, Bardella says

Jordan Bardella, president of the National Rally, said a “new wind of hope” had been blowing over the country

Jordan Bardella, president of the National Rally, said a “new wind of hope” had been blowing over the country

KEVIN COOMBS/REUTERS

Jordan Bardella said France has no majority and no clear course to run the country, but vowed to plough on to “return power to the French people”.

He said: “Macron pushed the country into uncertainty, depriving the French people of answers to their concerns at a time of crisis.”

For the past few months he said a “new wind of hope” has been blowing over the country.

He continued: “We do not want power for the sake of power. We want to return power to the French people. We will work more than ever for the recovery of the country. We will stand by your side until victory. Nothing can stop the people who have begun hoping again.”

Bardella: French deprived of what they voted for

Jordan Bardella, president of the National Rally, was tipped to be the next prime minister

Jordan Bardella, president of the National Rally, was tipped to be the next prime minister

SARAH MEYSSONNIER/REUTERS

Jordan Bardella, the prime ministerial candidate for the National Rally, said France is “being thrown into the hands of the far left”.

He said the electoral alliances formed between President Macron and the left-wing New Popular Front “deprived the French of what they voted for last Sunday”.

Faure: France said no to the arrival of the NR

Supporters of the Socialist party react to the exit polls at their election night headquarters in Paris

Supporters of the Socialist party react to the exit polls at their election night headquarters in Paris

AURELIEN MORISSARD/AP

Olivier Faure, the head of the Socialist party, said France had “avoided the worst” with the defeat of the National Rally but that it was “just a respite”.

“Tonight France said no to the arrival of the NR,” he said. “We must ensure that our country finds itself again. The NR had even chosen to divide the French among themselves. We need to get our country back on a clear footing and the New Popular Front must take charge of this new page in our history.”

Like Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the bloc’s leader, shortly before, he rejected the possibility of any coalition government between the left and the Macronist bloc. “I say this evening, we will not lend ourselves to any coalition of opposites,” Faure said.

“We will have just one compass: the programme of the New Popular Front,” Faure told supporters, adding that President Macron’s policies must not be continued and that his contested pension reform must be cancelled.

Olivier Faure at the bloc’s election night event

Olivier Faure at the bloc’s election night event

STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

EU relieved at exit poll predictions

The exit poll prompted sighs of relief in Brussels that Marine Le Pen’s National Rally appears to have failed to win (Bruno Waterfield writes).

“I’ll raise a glass,” said one diplomat roasting sausages at a barbecue in Brussels. “Especially if Macron beats her into third place. But it is going to be tough — he is weakened.”

The prospect of a hung parliament dominated by a fractious left-wing alliance worries the EU. A left-led government in France could row back on pension and workplace reforms as well as tear up commitments to meet euro-zone spending limits.

Mélenchon praises ‘united front’ against NR

Jean-Luc Mélenchon thanked the candidates who agreed to step down to provide a united front against the National Rally.

“At the end we obtained the result that was claimed to be impossible,” he said, describing the feat as a “huge effort of civil responsibility”.

He continued: “We were able to push the threat away. Tonight the National Rally is far from having the absolute majority that seemed to be within reach weeks ago. It’s a huge relief for a huge majority of people in the country. Voters can be reassured they have won.”

Mélenchon calls for prime minister to step down

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the left-wing coalition, said Macron’s “defeat has been confirmed”

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the left-wing coalition, said Macron’s “defeat has been confirmed”

PIERRE CROM/GETTY IMAGES

Jean-Luc Mélenchon has called for Gabriel Attal, the prime minister, to step down (Seren Hughes writes).

The leader of France Unbowed said: “The defeat of the president and his coalition has been confirmed. The president must recognise this defeat and should not attempt to circumvent it in anyway. The prime minister must step down.”

He called for President Macron to ask the New Popular Front to run the country and insisted his party “will not get into negotiations with (Macron’s) party”.

New Popular Front could win up to 215 seats

An estimate for the broadcaster TF1 said the left-wing New Popular Front could win 180 to 215 seats in parliament in the second voting round, while an Ipsos poll for France TV projected 172 to 215 seats for the coalition.

President Macron’s centrist bloc was seen narrowly ahead of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party in the battle for second place, according to the polls.

To gain an absolute majority a party would need 289 seats in the National Assembly.

Unexpected win for left-wing bloc

France’s left-wing New Popular Front coalition won the most seats in the second voting round of parliamentary elections, leading pollsters have said, putting them on track for an unexpected win over the hard-right National Rally party but short of an absolute majority in parliament.

First overseas National Rally MPs elected

The first overseas National Rally MPs have been elected in La Réunion and Mayotte.

Joseph Rivière has won in La Réunion and Anchya Bamana has been elected in Mayotte.

They will be the first overseas National Rally MPs in the party’s history.

Extra police braced for potential violence

Gérald Darmanin said he had deployed extra forces in case violence breaks out

Gérald Darmanin said he had deployed extra forces in case violence breaks out

THOMAS PADILLA/AP

France is braced for potential violence with 30,000 extra police deployed (Seren Hughes writes).

Political violence has surged during the three-week campaign, with more than 50 physical assaults on candidates and campaigners recorded, according to Gérald Darmanin, the interior minister.

Some luxury boutiques along the Champs-Élysées boulevard in Paris, including the Louis Vuitton store, have barricaded their windows as they prepare for unrest.

Workers have installed wood panels to protect shop windows on the Champs-Élysées avenue

Workers have installed wood panels to protect shop windows on the Champs-Élysées avenue

GUGLIELMO MANGIAPANE/REUTERS

What Le Pen’s victory would mean for immigration

Should Le Pen’s National Rally triumph today, she will end the automatic right of children born to foreign parents in France to claim citizenship when they turn 18.

The party also plans to make it easier to deport migrants whose asylum claims are rejected, restrict family reunifications, immediately expel foreign-born criminals, and curb both legal and illegal immigration.

Read the full story here

First results in from overseas territories

Some results have already come through from French overseas territories (Seren Hughes writes).

Emmanuel Tjibaou, a pro-independence indigenous Kanak candidate, won a seat in New Caledonia. The second seat on the territory was taken by Nicolas Metzdorf, a right-wing candidate and French loyalist.

Polls closed earlier in New Caledonia because of a curfew imposed in response to the violence that flared last month over an attempt to amend the French Constitution and change voting lists, which indigenous Kanaks feared would further marginalise them.

In Guadeloupe, four left-wing incumbents held their seats, while in Martinique all four seats also went to left-wing New Popular Front candidates.

The Le Pen family: a dynasty steeped in hard-right politics

Marie-Caroline Le Pen led in the first round of voting but must beat her only remaining rival on Sunday to win a seat in parliament

Marie-Caroline Le Pen led in the first round of voting but must beat her only remaining rival on Sunday to win a seat in parliament

JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Marie-Caroline Le Pen, Marine Le Pen’s eldest sister, is standing for parliament in the Sarthe département, near Le Mans.

This is the fifth time she has tried to become an MP but the first campaign in which she has a reasonable chance of winning, amid an upsurge in support for her party across the country.

Jean-Marie Le Pen, their father and a Holocaust denier with multiple convictions for incitement to racial hatred, founded the party in 1972. In those days, the Le Pens were pariahs.

Read the full story here

Bardella arrives for election night party

Jordan Bardella, the man who could be France’s youngest ever prime minister, has arrived at his election night party on the outskirts of Paris (Constance Kampfner writes).

The leader of the National Rally, 28, arrived by motorcade just before 7pm local time, alongside Marine Le Pen.

About 300 journalists are in attendance, including The Times’s David Chazan who will be reporting on the night’s events. As French commentators have noted, the unusual number of foreign journalists present is a sign of how consequential the result of these elections will be not just in France, but across Europe.

Macron opts for formal wear on big day

President Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, leave the polling station in Le Touquet

President Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, leave the polling station in Le Touquet

SÉBASTIEN COURDJI/GETTY IMAGES

President Macron has often sought to weaponise his wardrobe to convey a political message, but his efforts have sometimes attracted mockery (David Chazan writes).

Today he wore a sober blue suit when he went to vote in Le Touquet, the Channel resort where he and his wife, Brigitte, own a holiday home. It marked a sharp contrast with his more relaxed dress style after voting in the first round last weekend, when he took a stroll wearing a leather bomber jacket, jeans and a cap.

Last week President Macron chose a more relaxed style

Last week President Macron chose a more relaxed style

LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

If the casual dress was an attempt to counter criticism that Macron, a former investment banker, is elitist and remote from the daily concerns of ordinary people, it went badly awry.

Instead, he was ridiculed on social media, with many questioning why he looked so carefree when his party was facing a crushing defeat.

“Does the bloke think he’s Tom Cruise?” one user asked.

His formal dress today may have been intended to emphasise his intention to remain in office until his term ends in 2027, even if he has to “cohabit” with a government of a different political persuasion to his own.

National Rally ‘would have gun to Europe’s head’

Marine Le Pen could join forces with other European hard-right governments

Marine Le Pen could join forces with other European hard-right governments

THIBAULT CAMUS/AP

If Marine Le Pen wins she is expected to join forces with Italy’s Giorgia Meloni, Viktor Orban in Hungary, Slovakia’s Robert Fico and the new Dutch government, dominated by Geert Wilders’ hard-right Party for Freedom, to form a blocking minority of five countries, representing 35.69 per cent of the EU population (Bruno Waterfield writes).

Belgium is still forming a government likely to be led by Bart De Wever, in the New Flemish Alliance, a Eurosceptic party in Meloni’s ECR bloc, taking a potential blocking minority, which can veto decisions in the Council of the EU, well over the threshold to six countries, representing 38.3 per cent of the vote.

The National Rally, as the other parties, is hostile to EU climate change legislation, particularly in terms of wanting to reduce taxes on fossil fuels or to take tougher measures to stop irregular migration. “They would have a gun to Europe’s head,” said one ambassador.

National Rally could form blocking minority in EU

Marine Le Pen’s National Rally could join a bloc of hard-right parties in Brussels

Marine Le Pen’s National Rally could join a bloc of hard-right parties in Brussels

YVES HERMAN/REUTERS

It is a nail biting vote for the European Union today as President Macron’s gamble risks complete paralysis in Brussels (Bruno Waterfield writes).

“This is an even more important vote for the EU than 2016 and Brexit,” said one ambassador. “The EU as we know it could end.”

If Marine Le Pen’s National Rally wins, Eurosceptic, nationalist conservative right-wing governments across Europe will have a permanent blocking minority at the Council of the EU in Brussels.

The council, informally known as the council of ministers as it is made up of the ministers of member states, has the power to veto all legislation with decisions on issues like migration, environment and energy, taken by a qualified majority of countries.

Less well known than the majority principle is that of the blocking minority. At least four member states, representing 35 per cent of the EU’s population, can block all policies by abstaining or voting against directives or other EU laws.

A solemn and tense atmosphere

The atmosphere was solemn at our village mairie in the Eure-et-Loir, southwest of Paris, when we turned up to vote this afternoon (Charles Bremner writes).

Couples were strolling in across the courtyard but there was little chatting with the “assesseurs” who supervise France’s polling ritual. You emerge from the booth and drop an envelope containing your candidate’s name into a transparent box. The supervisor proclaims “a voté” (has voted) and you sign the register. The deputy mayor, a normally talkative neighbour whose wife is a gendarme, was subdued. You could feel the tension over the most potentially fateful parliamentary elections for decades.

Our choice was between Guillaume Kasbarian, President Macron’s housing minister, and Emma Minot, a 23-year-old student representing Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, who came top in the first round. The Greens candidate, part of the left-wing Front, withdrew after coming third as part of the effort to block the rise of the Rally. So Kasbarian looks set to keep his seat.

But a slightly lower turnout this time suggests a number of left-wing voters have stayed away, put off by an unpalatable choice between Macron’s centrist bloc and the anti-immigrant Rally, which is still seen on the left as a pariah despite Marine Le Pen’s decade of detoxification. Or the drop in voters could just be the result of the start of the summer holidays since the school term ended on Friday.

Polling stations compete with Tour de France

The Tour de France has arrived in France for the ninth stage of the contest

The Tour de France has arrived in France for the ninth stage of the contest

MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Given the choice between exercising their democratic mandate and watching the Tour de France, there seems to have been little doubt what many voters would opt for (Constance Kampfner writes).

Which is why several areas in northeastern France, where the ninth stage of the cycling contest took place today, were granted special dispensation to keep polling booths open for longer to allow more people to vote.

Residents of Celles-sur-Ource have been able to cast their ballots since 7am this morning, instead of the usual 8am so they can “make the most of the Tour de France afterwards”, said Vincent Delot, the village’s mayor.

Other areas of the Aube department are staying open for an hour or two longer than most polling stations, which close at 6pm local time.

Total turnout predicted to be highest since 1997

Turnout is predicted to be 67 per cent today, which would be the highest turnout at the second round of French elections since 1997 (Seren Hughes writes).

With voting still under way until 8pm local time, total turnout is estimated to be 67 per cent, according to the polling company Ipsos Talan.

It would be the highest turnout at the second round since 1997, when the figure stood at 71.1 per cent.

Jordan Bardella has been the National Rally’s president since 2022

Jordan Bardella has been the National Rally’s president since 2022

DANIEL COLE/AP

Jordan Bardella, 28, could be France’s next prime minister after one of the most spectacular ascents in recent European political history.

He has been National Rally’s president since 2022, and was the frontman and star of the party’s campaign. A slick if sometimes robotic performer, he has given countless interviews to French media in recent days in which he has portrayed the contest as a battle between his own “patriots” and the New Popular Front, a left-wing alliance that came second last weekend, pushing Macron’s centrists into a humiliating third place.

Read the full story here

Who will win the election?

Tactical voting will determine the final outcome. In an attempt to block the National Rally’s path to power, the leftist alliance and President Macron’s group have agreed to withdraw candidates from 212 of the 577 constituencies, each giving way to the other where they came third.

The latest polls point to a hung parliament, with Le Pen’s party short of an absolute majority. Macron and many left-wingers are said to want to build a broad-based coalition, including different parties from left to right, to stop the hard right taking power.

Read our full analysis

When are the results announced?

The first-round results started to come out last Sunday, with almost all constituency scores announced by about 11pm. A picture emerged of the parties that are in a “favourable position” for the second round in each constituency.

The second-round results will be announced from 7pm today. If margins are close, suspense over the shape of the final parliament could continue until late into the evening.

Read our explainer for everything you need to know about the election

Voter turnout highest since 1981

Voter turnout is at its highest in four decades already today (Seren Hughes writes).

By 5pm local time, voter turnout stood at 59.71 per cent, up from 38.11 per cent at the same time in the last election in 2022, the interior ministry said.

The 5pm turnout figure was also up from the first round of the election last Sunday, when it stood at 59.39 per cent.

It is the highest since 1981, when turnout was 61.4 per cent.

Polls close at 6pm local time, with some stations staying open until 8pm.

What happened in the first round of voting?

Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration party won 33.14 of the vote in the first round of parliamentary elections, according to the latest figures.

In second place is the New Popular Front, the left-wing alliance whose members range from the moderate Socialists to the radical France Unbowed party led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, with 27.99 per cent.

President Macron’s centrist alliance, Ensemble, is in third place, with 20.04 per cent. The conservative Republicans and their centre-right allies are on 10.74 per cent.