Marine Le Pen's far-right National Rally party has turned its attention to June's parliament elections despite its presidential defeat, promising to field candidates in every French constituency and claiming that the electoral system is stacked against it.
The acting party president, Jordan Bardella, said we had been preparing for a very long time for these elections. Our ideas are defended in the assembly. He said that his party would take a stand on security, immigration and French identity issues in parliament, as well as taxes. He said the people have to vote on the CNews TV channel. We need an opposition. Le Pen was defeated by centrist Emmanuel Macron in Sunday's presidential election by 58.5% to 41.5%, but she won a historic victory for the far right, with more than 13 m votes. She will run again in the parliamentary elections in June and is likely to keep her seat in the Pas-de-Calais area of northern France.
Her party has struggled to get seats in parliament in the past because of the high number of votes in the presidential election. This is due to a two-round parliamentary voting system that does not favor small parties, as well as tactical voting to keep out of the far right. Abstention in parliamentary elections is traditionally higher than in presidential elections, which has had a negative impact on the National Rally's results.
In 2017, the year of the last parliamentary election, Le Pen won more than 10 m votes in the presidential final against Macron but weeks later her party and its associated lawmakers won only eight seats in the 577 seat parliament. The party believes that the chances are better this June because Sunday's presidential vote showed that Le Pen has expanded her support across a greater area, including a strong showing in the north and north-east.
The presidential election is a very different situation this time, because we arrived first in 159 constituencies, compared to 45 in 2017, said Gilles Pennelle, a party delegate who is expected to be a candidate in Brittany.
The party hasn't set a public target of how many seats it wants to win. Several party figures said they hope to win enough seats to form a parliamentary grouping, which would mean at least 15 seats. If she decides to run for a fourth time in 2027, a National Rally parliamentary grouping, led by Le Pen, would give her a bigger platform and higher visibility.
The party of the newly elected president has always won a majority in parliament in recent French parliamentary elections, following the presidential election.
A poll on Monday by Harris Interactive institute suggested that Macron would win 326 to 366 seats out of 577 if he manages to strike a broad right alliance with smaller parties, including the rightwing Les R publicains.
A poll on Wednesday by Elabe found that 61% of French people wanted a parliamentary majority that was opposed to Macron. The radical leftist leftwinger Jean-Luc M lenchon is trying to form an alliance of parties on the left in a bid to gain maximum seats. His party, France Unbowed, currently has 17 seats in the parliament.