Former French President Warns of Far Right ‘Climbing the Steps to Power’ After it Takes 34% Majority of Votes | Video

French voters went to the polls Sunday for the first round of a snap legislative election, a move implemented by France’s President Emmanuel Macron following his coalition’s stumble in the broader European Union elections held June 9. Commenting on the elections, which gave the far-right party National Rally (RN) coalition an estimated 34% of the vote, former French President François Hollande warned of “the gravity of the situation we’re in, with a far right that is ever more — and even moreso than after the European elections — climbing the steps to power.”

“This is a major threat,” Hollande continued. “We carried hope, we carried the hope that our proposals may become policy, may become implemented reform — but we also have the solemn duty to make sure that the far right does not achieve a majority in the National Assembly.”

“If we do not fight as we have never fought before for this second round of elections, then the risk, the threat may become a reality,” he added.

Turnout in the first round of France’s elections was high, with an estimated 65.8% of registered voters casting ballots. The left-wing New Popular Front came away with 28.1% of the vote, while Macron’s more centrist Together alliance took 21%. The conservative RN is on track to gain 38 members of Parliament, more than double what party leader Marine Le Pen said she expected to receive.

The elections resulted in fiery protests in Paris, where people gathered at the Place de la Republique to protest RN. The French Union of Jewish Students also warned against the rise in right-wing politics in the country. An ultimate victory for RN would result in the first conservative government in the country since World War II.

“The danger is imminent: the RN must not obtain absolute control,” the Jewish student organization tweeted. “We call for withdrawal against the RN everywhere except in the face of the LFI which do not share essential republican values. Tomorrow, we will be on the roads, to call for republican mobilization.”

The election results were celebrated by far-right leaders from around the European Union. Spain’s Santiago Abascal tweeted the the elections were “the victory of hope, freedom and security for the French.”

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal has called for candidates who placed third in the first round of elections to drop out of the race and support candidates who placed second and first, making a bid to stymie further gains for RN. A second round of elections will take place next Sunday, July 7.

This Sunday’s vote was the second in three weeks. RN’s apparent gains here do not necessarily indicate the party will gain a majority in the second round of voting. In the event that no party wins a clear majority in Parliament, it’s likely that Macron would invoke Article 8 of the country’s Constitution and appoint a new prime minister from the leading group — which could be RN.

The party already stated that its choice for prime minister is Jordan Bartella, who has no experience in the government — but also that Bartella will not accept the post if RN does not achieve a majority of 289 seats in Parliament.

However, the Constitution does not offer specific parameters for how Macron should go about choosing a prime minister. The president could install an anti-RN leader in Bartella’s stead.

RN has historic ties to racism and antisemitism in France and has also come out as anti-immigration. On Wednesday, French director Alice Diop spoke out against the party in an interview with the French outlet Libération. “There’s an elephant in the room and no one seems to see it,” she said.

“The question of racism is not being clearly asked. I hear different analysis of the motivation of the vote for the Front National [now renamed National Rally], there are lots of things being said, and which I can share, about the complexity of this vote,” she continued. “But what is the common denominator of all these people? It’s racism, it’s a vision of the world, a will to return to a certain idea of France, a fantasy past where I would be perceived as a foreigner, an enemy.”

Diop echoed actor Omar Sy, star of the Netflix series “Lupin.” H told Le Parisien in April, “Of course there are instances when it’s difficult to be Black in France. That doesn’t date from today and unfortunately it’s ongoing. It can happen at any time in one’s life.”

RN’s leader Le Pen is expected to run for president again in 2027. She was defeated by Macron in 2022.

The election results could have wider implications for the EU, particularly in terms of efforts to aid Ukraine to the alliance as it fights its war against Russia. RN has long maintained strong ties to Russia and its leader, President Vladimir Putin. The political tensions in France, with a president whose future appears at risk, are not dissimilar to those that have played out in the United States since Thursday’s debate between President Joe Biden and Donald Trump, the New York Times noted Sunday.

In addition to support for Ukraine, NATO itself is at risk if a right-wing prime minister is installed in France — and if Trump, who did not deny that he would take the U.S. out of the alliance when asked on Thursday, wins this November’s election.

It is also possible that a conservative victory in France could lead to the “broader unraveling” of the European Union itself, the outlet added.

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