Le Pen, leftist Mélenchon eye June legislative polls as a way to counter Macron

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Within hours of polls closing in the second round of the French presidential election, the runners-up set their sights on the “third round”: legislative elections in June, which will decide how much of President Emmanuel Macron’s agenda he is able to pass. Far-right Marine Le Pen and veteran leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who finished third in the first round of voting, both hope to mobilise voters to form a strong parliamentary opposition to the freshly re-elected president.

With a 17-point lead over his far-right rival, Macron secured a decisive victory against Le Pen in Sunday’s presidential run-off, dashing her hopes of an upset win as he did in 2017. But Le Pen made major gains, cutting Macron’s margin nearly in half compared to five years ago, when he defeated her 66 points to 34.

Le Pen is keen to channel that momentum into the next round of voting: France’s legislative elections, on June 12 and 19. Speaking shortly after the results were announced Sunday, she urged her supporters to turn to the “great battle” ahead.

“Tonight we launch the great battle of the legislative elections,” Le Pen said. “I will lead this battle alongside Jordan Bardella, with all those who had the courage to oppose Emmanuel Macron in the second round, with all those who have France at heart.”

Le Pen, herself a member of France’s National Assembly since 2017, representing the northern Pas-de-Calais region, sought to present her party as the leading force of opposition to Macron.

“The National Rally will seek to rally those who want to come together and join forces against Emmanuel Macron, wherever they may come from, in order to field and support candidates everywhere,” she said.

Speaking on news channel TF1, the National Rally’s acting president Bardella described the June elections as the “third round” of presidential voting.

‘The third round begins tonight’

Leftist Mélenchon, for his part, expressed his satisfaction with Le Pen’s defeat.

“It’s very good news for the unity of our people,” Mélenchon said. But he had no kind words for the incumbent. The two finalists on Sunday had the support of “barely over a third of registered voters”, he said, before also turning to the legislative elections.

“Don’t give up,” said Mélenchon, an opposition MP since 2017, representing parts of Marseille. “The third round begins tonight. On June 12 and 19, another world is still possible if you elect a majority of MPs from the new popular union, which must continue to grow.”

After Le Pen edged him out in the first round, Mélenchon had called on voters to elect him prime minister in the legislative elections. His campaign director Manuel Bompard still believes he has a chance.

Mélenchon can still be prime minister, “not to be prime minister but to pass his platform, freeze prices, raise the minimum wage, and put in place a Sixth Republic”, Bompard said.

Pundit Éric Zemmour, who ran to Le Pen’s right and finished fourth in the first round with 7 percent of the vote, also gestured toward the legislative elections, calling on the “national bloc to unite and rally”.

“There can be no electoral victory without an alliance among the entire right,” he said, echoing his message on the campaign trail. “Our coalition isn’t an option – it’s a necessity, it’s a duty,” Zemmour said.

This article has been adapted from the original in French.

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