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French protesters turn out to oppose far-right shift ahead of snap election

Demonstrators rallied against the far right in France on Saturday.
Laure Boyer
/
AFP via Getty Images
Demonstrators rallied against the far right in France on Saturday.

From Paris to Toulouse, some 300,000 people took to the streets of France on Saturday urging voters to block the country's far-right party from gaining a majority in the upcoming parliament elections.

The elections will be held in a two-round vote on June 30 and July 7.

Protesters are demonstrating against far-right leaders Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella, both of whom hold hard-line views on immigration, after their National Rally party made historic gains in European elections last weekend.

If the elections result in their favor, it would also be the first time France would have a far-right government since World War II.

In Paris, tens of thousands of people gathered in the Place de la République and marched through eastern Paris. About 20,000 law enforcement officers were deployed in the city, reported The Associated Press. Many protesters took to the streets with anti-racist and pro-Palestinian messages.

In the city of Nice, where Le Pen has gained significant support, police said about 2,500 protesters turned out to protest the far-right, according to the AP.

Demonstrators gather against the far right in Paris, France, on Saturday.
Laure Boyer/Hans Lucas / AFP via Getty Images
/
AFP via Getty Images
Demonstrators gather against the far right in Paris, France, on Saturday.

Last weekend, President Emmanuel Macron's centrist Renew party was defeated in the European Union parliamentary elections by the far-right party of Le Pen. Results showed Macron's party had 15% of the vote, while Le Pen's had about 32%.

In response, Macron dissolved the French parliament and called for snap elections — in hopes that he will muster a stronger backing for his remaining three years as president.

The move has been viewed as a major gamble. If the far right gets a majority, Macron would virtually become a sitting duck president with a hostile parliament and prime minister.
 
With the goal of preventing the National Rally party from winning the upcoming elections, left-wing parties on Friday formed a coalition, shelving their differences on the wars in Gaza and Ukraine.

France's political landscape has been deeply fragmented ever since its mainstream right and left parties imploded several years ago. It comes as part of a larger trend in Europe — in the recent EU elections, voters in the 27-country bloc handed big gains to far-right parties.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.