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As Far Right Makes Gains in EU Contests, France’s Macron Calls for Snap Election

President Emmanuel Macron said “the rise of nationalists and demagogues is a danger for our nation and for Europe.”

France's President Emmanuel Macron (right) walks with Daniel Fasquelle (left), mayor of Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, on the day of the vote for the European Parliament election in Le Touquet, France, on June 9, 2024.

French President Emmanuel Macron called snap legislative elections on Sunday after his party suffered a major defeat in European Parliament contests, with Marine Le Pen’s far-right, xenophobic National Rally scoring twice the support of Macron’s Renaissance.

In a nationally televised speech following the elections, which saw the far-right make gains across much of the European Union, Macron said that “the rise of nationalists and demagogues is a danger for our nation and for Europe.”

“After this day, I cannot go on as though nothing has happened,” said Macron, who dissolved the lower house of France’s Parliament and announced elections will be held on June 30 and July 7.

Macron’s move was described as an “extraordinary gamble.” As the Financial Times reported, Macron’s “alliance could be crushed, which would force him to appoint a prime minister from another party, such as the center-right Les Republicains or even the far-right RN, in an arrangement known as a ‘cohabitation.’”

“In such a scenario,” FT added, “Macron would be left with little power over domestic affairs with three years left as president.”

Preliminary election data shows that the conservative European People’s Party (EPP) is set to control around 190 of 720 seats in the European Parliament after Sunday’s elections, maintaining its status as the body’s largest force. But Politico noted that “if the far-right were to form a single group it would be the second-largest force in Parliament” behind the EPP.

In addition to Le Pen’s National Rally, “Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy similarly soared, with more than a quarter of voters backing the group,” Politico reported. “The two groups in the European Parliament on the furthest right of the spectrum, the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and the Identity and Democracy (ID) group, will control 131 seats in the chamber. That’s not counting the Alternative for Germany’s 15 lawmakers, the 10 representatives of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party, the six belonging to Poland’s Confederation party, or the three members of Bulgaria’s pro-Kremlin Revival party.”

Yanis Varoufakis, co-founder of DiEM25, whose political party was unable to secure a seat in the European Parliament, said after Sunday’s elections that “we live in a Europe where neofascism and absenteeism are on the rise — a combination that allows the oligarchs to plunder.”

“Tonight, I call on all the forces of the Radical Ecological Left that were not with us today to join us so that, while preserving our differences, we can respond to the yearning of the people of the Left and Ecology for united, militant unity on the basis of common values and a common program,” said Varoufakis.

The far-right did not advance in every E.U. nation. The Sweden Democrats, a party with neo-Nazi roots, saw their share of the vote fall, lagging the Social Democrats, the Moderates, and the Greens.

Finland, meanwhile, “bucked a continent-wide trend of rising support for parties on the outer fringe of right-wing politics, with the Left Alliance and the National Coalition winning big at the expense of the nationalist Finns Party,” the country’s broadcasting company reported.

“Leftist leader Li Andersson received more votes than any other candidate has ever received in a European election,” the outlet added.

Christian Christensen, a professor at Stockholm University, wrote on social media Sunday that there’s “lots of talk about a far-right wave in Europe, but at least in the three Nordics (Sweden, Finland, and Denmark) it looks like a good night for the left and bad night for the nativist right.”

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