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EU ELECTIONS

‘The people’s victory’: Le Pen tells Macron to dissolve parliament over EU election results

A triumphant Marine Le Pen demanded President Emmanuel Macron dissolve parliament "as a minimum" after preliminary results suggested her party would top the election in France.

'The people's victory': Le Pen tells Macron to dissolve parliament over EU election results
Photo: AFP

Speaking to supporters Marine Le Pen said: “The French have placed the National Rally at the top of the European elections. I see the people's victory, who with pride and dignity have retaken power this evening.

“A widespread movement for an alternative is born.”

The far-right party leader said President Emmanuel Macron must deal with the consequences of the result, which exit polls suggested would see Le Pen's party pick up 24 percent of the vote compared to 22.5 percent for Macron's La Republique en Marche.

Le Pen, who lost out to Macron in a bitter presidential election in 2017, called for the head of state to dissolve the parliament and call new elections, a proposal that was immediately rejected by the government.

“It is up to the president of the Republic to draw conclusions, he who put his presidential credit on the line in this vote in making it a referendum on his policies and even his personality,” she added.

“He has no choice but to dissolve parliament, as a minimum and put in place a voting system that is finally more democratic and more representative of the real public opinion in the country,” she said. 

Marine Le Pen's French far-right National Rally called for the formation of a “powerful group” in the European parliament after exit polls indicated the party would top the election in France.

“The gains for our allies in Europe and the emergence of new forces across the continent… open the way for the formation of a powerful group in the European parliament,” the lead campaigner for National Rally, Jordan Bardella, told supporters.

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EUROPEAN ELECTIONS

Down but not out: Macron eyes shakeup of European parliament

French President Emmanuel Macron tasted defeat in the European elections, but not disaster, and is set to continue pushing both his pro-EU agenda and a realignment of parties in the European Parliament.

Down but not out: Macron eyes shakeup of European parliament
Macron's Republic on the Move (LREM) party finished second behind the far-right National Rally (RN) of his arch-rival Marine Le Pen, but the two parties ended up with less than 1.0 percentage point separating them — on 22.41 percent and 23.31 percent respectively.
   
The vote was seen as a test for Macron domestically after months of anti-government “yellow vest” protests, while his credibility in Europe as a champion of deeper integration was also judged to be on the line.
   
“A disappointment, but not a defeat for the Elysee,” headlined Le Parisien newspaper on Monday, while an editorial in the Les Echos business daily said Macron's party was “resisting well” two years after his election.
   
Macron on Monday held a meeting of key figures from the LREM — including Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and the head of its list for the EU polls Nathalie Loiseau — to discuss the “next steps”, a presidential source said.
 
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EU election ANALYSIS: Cut the hysteria, Le Pen is not on her way to French presidencyPhoto: AFP

The 41-year-old's priority will now be trying to increase his influence in the European Parliament where LREM and its centrist allies will send 23 MEPs, the same number as Le Pen's RN.

His long-standing objective is to redraw the political map of the EU parliament, long dominated by the centre-right EPP grouping and the centre-left S&D — in the same way as he broke the stranglehold of France's traditional parties.
   
Macron's EU-level partners, who form the ALDE group, finished third in Sunday's polls, but the French leader is now aiming to broaden the coalition to include new partners, particularly Greens who made major gains.
   
“The group that we are going to join is going to be a swing group which will try to be a driver in the creation of a progressive alliance. Why not with the Greens?”, French government spokesman Sibeth Ndiaye told BFM television on Monday.
   
She added that ALDE would be renamed.
   
On Monday night, Macron will hold talks in Paris with victorious Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez whose Socialist party is set to become the biggest member of the S&D grouping after topping polls in Spain.
   
“At the European level, the president is still manoeuvring to form a large progressive alliance, a force that will be essential in the new parliament,” an aide to the French leader told AFP on Sunday.
 
Tricky Greens?
 
But Macron's ambitions, like his broader agenda for new EU initiatives, are likely to face resistance and it is far from certain that he can repeat his feat of fracturing Europe's centre-right and centre-left parties, as he did in France.
   
In a sign of the difficulties in proposing a deal with the Greens, influential and outspoken Belgian MEP Philippe Lamberts appeared to rule out an alliance on Sunday, saying that Macron “couldn't give a shit” about the environment.
   
Lamberts, co-leader of the Greens, delivered a caustic speech to Macron when he visited the European Parliament in April last year, saying he had betrayed France's values of liberty, equality and fraternity.
   
Some analysts see the ALDE grouping as increasing its influence in the new parliament, but as remaining a distinct group along with the Greens.
   
“Centrists and liberals are now strong enough to say to the EPP and S&D, you need to work with us and organise a four-way coalition,” Sebastien Maillard from the Jacques Delors Institute, a think-tank, told AFP.
 
By AFP's Adam Plowright
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