The far right in power or an ungovernable assembly? The French are called to the polls on Sunday for historic legislative elections whose outcome, uncertain, will permanently change the political landscape.

Since Friday evening, the country has been plunged into the reserve period which ends the campaign and prohibits the publication of new polls. A truce in a deleterious atmosphere, marked by insults, physical attacks on candidates and poster hangers, and the release of racist and anti-Semitic speech.

In major metropolitan cities, they will remain open until 6:00 p.m. GMT, when the first estimates are published.

On Friday, several polls seemed to show a tightening between the three blocs: on the far right, the National Rally and its allies, on the left, the New Popular Front (NFP) alliance, and on the center right, the camp of President Emmanuel Macron. The latter plunged France into the unknown by deciding on June 9 to dissolve the National Assembly after his debacle in the European elections.

The far right would obtain between 170 and 210 seats, for an absolute majority set at 289 deputies. They would be closely followed by the NFP (155 to 185), followed by the Macronists (95 to 125).

But the pollsters were showing a certain caution. Because the participation is expected to be very strong, perhaps the highest in 25 years, and no one knows how strong it will be.

More than 200 candidates from the left and the centre have withdrawn, dozens of three-way contests, which seemed favourable to the RN at the end of the first round, have suddenly turned into much tighter duels.

“Today the danger is a majority dominated by the extreme right and that would be a catastrophic project,” warned Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, head of the presidential camp's campaign.

– Concerns abroad –
The leader of the far right, Marine Le Pen, denounced the maneuvers of a “single party” of “those who want to retain power against the will of the people.”

If she succeeds in her bet and obtains a sufficient majority, it is her protégé Jordan Bardella, 28, who would enter Matignon with a strong anti-immigration program. It would be the first government from the extreme right in France since the Second World War.

The hypothesis has raised fears among other major European countries that are partners of France, worried about seeing a Eurosceptic party known to be close to Vladimir Putin's Russia come to power in one of the pillars of the European Union.

The French political scene was shaken up in 2017 by the election of President Macron, right under the noses of the traditional post-war parties.

But on June 9, by choosing to dissolve the National Assembly and call these elections when the far right had just won the European elections and was enjoying strong momentum, the head of state attempted a gamble that his own troops will not forgive him for.

His camp will need a broad coalition with a part of the left and the right hostile to the RN to govern. On what program could this alliance described by political scientists as “carp and rabbit” agree?

The mystery is such that Gabriel Attal has declared that his government is ready to ensure the continuity of the State “as long as necessary”. In other words, to deal with current affairs while waiting for the formation of a new team, while Paris hosts the Olympic Games in three weeks.

Faced with possible disturbances on Sunday evening, 30,000 police officers will be mobilized, including 5,000 in Paris.

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