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The turnout in the second round of the legislative elections reached 26.63% on Sunday at midday, a level not seen since 1981, proof of the massive mobilization of the French for this historic election from which the National Rally could emerge victorious, with great uncertainty however over its ability to obtain an absolute majority in the Assembly.

At 12:00, participation in metropolitan France was 26.63%, compared to 25.90% at the same time last Sunday, according to the Ministry of the Interior, a level not seen since 1981 and the arrival of the left in power. This figure also includes invalid or blank votes.

“It's important for our generation to get around first, which wasn't necessarily the case before,” said Lucas Bremond, 23, a biology student in Marseille.

From Calais to Perpignan, from Metz to Bordeaux, feverishness dominates among the French called to vote for a third time in less than a month, anxious since the dissolution of the National Assembly which has shaken up the political landscape.

“There is a lot of tension, people are going crazy,” commented Laurence Abbad, a 66-year-old retiree in Tourcoing, who fears violence in the evening after the results are announced.

A few kilometres away, in Lille, Cécile Artis, a 59-year-old senior executive, is worried about “the polarisation of public opinion”, while in the small town of Rosheim near Strasbourg, Antoine Schrameck, a 72-year-old retiree, says he is “anxious”: “we are at a turning point in the history of the Republic”.

Several political figures have already voted: François Hollande – who is making an unexpected return to politics – in Tulle in Corrèze, Gabriel Attal – candidate for re-election in Hauts-de-Seine – in Vanves, the former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe in his city of Le Havre in Seine-Maritime, the former head of government Elisabeth Borne in Vire in Calvados, Eric Ciotti, who joined the RN, in Nice…

Emmanuel Macron is about to go to vote in Le Touquet in Pas-de-Calais.

Asked about a possible speech by the head of state after 8 p.m., his entourage told AFP that “nothing had been decided” for the moment, “everything will depend on the results.”

76 deputies were elected in the first round and 501 remain to be designated.

Last Sunday, the French placed the National Rally – and its allies from LR – largely in the lead (33%), ahead of the left-wing alliance New Popular Front (NFP, 28%), and the presidential camp Ensemble (20%).

The first results have been released in some overseas territories, which do not in any way indicate a national trend.

In Guadeloupe, the four outgoing left-wing deputies regain their seats. In Martinique, the four constituencies go to candidates from the New Popular Front. In Guyana, the two outgoing elected officials supported by the NFP are strengthened.

– Numerous withdrawals –
A far-right government in France would be a first since World War II.

But the campaign between the two rounds was marked by 210 withdrawals of candidates from the Macronist camp and the NFP, in the name of a “republican front” reinvigorated by the prospect of the nomination of the president of the RN Jordan Bardella, 28, to Matignon.

As a result of these withdrawals, the prospect of an absolute majority for the RN seems to be fading.

A few hours before the end of the election campaign on Friday at midnight and the start of a reserve period, several polls gave between 170 and 230 seats for the Le Pen party. A spectacular progression compared to their 88 outgoing deputies, but insufficient to reach an absolute majority alone (289 deputies).

It is still necessary to note the fragility of these forecasts with “fifty constituencies which are being played out in a very close race”, according to the deputy president of Ipsos Brice Teinturier.

And to what extent will the French follow the instructions of political leaders at the ballot box?

With the withdrawals, “the freedom of the candidates has been flouted, it distorts the vote”, deplores Bernard Keller, a 60-year-old company manager who voted in Rosheim.

Marine Le Pen considers the RN's chances of having an absolute majority to be “serious”.

– “To the wall” –
If this were not the case, a period of uncertainty and intense negotiations would open after very trying elections for the parties and the country.

“Everyone will be somewhere with their backs to the wall to move forward in the service of our fellow citizens” beyond the “divisions”, noted Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, ruling out the possibility of governing with the RN or LFI, who do not want it anyway.

The right does not seem at present inclined to enter into a construction of this type. On the left, the hypothesis is debated and risks fracturing the fragile alliance of the New Popular Front.

Regaining its status as the best opponent of the “system” thanks to the Republican Front, the RN has denounced in advance “schemes” intended to deprive it of power.

There remains the hypothesis of a technical government, like the one that saved Italy from the debt crisis in 2011.

Gabriel Attal has in any case declared himself available to ensure the continuity of the State “as long as necessary”, a question which arises all the more since Paris will host the Olympic Games from July 26 to August 11.

Attacks, racist insults, death threats, the period between the two rounds was marked by violence and tension. “51 candidates, substitutes or activists” were “physically attacked” in recent days, according to Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin.

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

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