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Saturday July 20, 2024

Tense France goes to polls as far-right scents power

By AFP
June 30, 2024
A man walks past election posters outside a polling station, ahead of the French parliamentary elections, in Paris, France, June 22, 2024. — Reuters
A man walks past election posters outside a polling station, ahead of the French parliamentary elections, in Paris, France, June 22, 2024. — Reuters

PARIS: Voting got underway in France’s overseas territories on Saturday in high-stakes snap parliamentary elections, which could change the country’s trajectory and see the far-right party of Marine Le Pen take power in a historic first.

Residents of the tiny French archipelago of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, located off the coast of Canada, began casting their ballots in the first round of elections from 1000 GMT. They will be followed by voters in France’s islands in the Caribbean and the South American territory of French Guiana. Voting will later start in territories in the Pacific and then in the Indian Ocean before it gets underway on the mainland on Sunday.

Elections for the 577 seats in the lower house National Assembly are a two-round process. The shape of the new parliament will become clear after the second round a week later, on July 7.

With Russia’s war against Ukraine in its third year and energy and food prices soaring, support for the anti-immigration and eurosceptic National Rally party has surged. Most polls show that National Rally is on course to win the largest number of seats in the National Assembly, parliament’s lower house, although it remains unclear if the party will secure an outright majority. A high turnout is predicted and final opinion polls have given the RN between 35 percent and 37 percent of the vote, against 27.5-29 percent for the left-wing New Popular Front alliance and 20-21 percent for President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist camp.