France votes in second round of parliamentary polls as far right eyes power

France votes in second round of parliamentary

PARIS – French voters are casting ballots in parliamentary run-off election, which will be decisive in determining its political future that might see the far right become the largest bloc in parliament for the first time. Voting began at 8am (06:00 GMT) on Sunday and will close between 6pm (16:00 GMT) in rural areas and 8pm (18:00 GMT) in big cities. About 30,000 police, including 5,000 in Paris, were deployed across the country ahead of the voting. As of midday on Sunday, some 26.63 percent of voters had turned out for the second round of voting, up on the first round and the highest figure since 1981.

The elections could lead to France getting its first far-right government since the Nazi occupation during World War II if the National Rally wins, and its 28-year-old leader Jordan Bardella becomes prime minister. The party came out on top in the previous week’s first-round voting, followed by a coalition of centre-left, hard-left and Green parties. President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance came in third place. “More than 200 centrist and left-wing candidates have pulled out of their races to give other challengers a better chance to beat the far right. It’s what they call in France a republican front,” Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen, reporting from Paris, said. “We will see today how successful this republican front will be. That’s the main question.”

Macron called the snap elections three years in advance after his political alliance was trounced in June’s European Parliament elections, a gamble which many observers believe backfired. Many in France remain baffled over why Macron called an election he was under no obligation to hold that could end with the RN doubling its presence in parliament and his contingent of centrist MPs halving in number. But the president, known for his penchant for theatrical gestures, appears intent on executing what he calls a “clarification” of French politics that he hopes will eventually leave three clear camps of the far right, centre and the hard left. (Aljazeera)…[+]