Le Pen Rivals Set to Block Far-Right French Majority, Polls Show

(Bloomberg) -- Marine Le Pen’s National Rally is set to fall well short of an absolute majority in the French legislative election on Sunday, according to projections from polling companies.

Most Read from Bloomberg

The far-right group and its allies are on course to win between 190 and 250 of the 577 seats in the National Assembly, based on four surveys released on Wednesday and Thursday. That would be significantly below the 289 that would enable it to pass bills easily and push through its agenda.

The second round of the snap election takes place on Sunday with 501 districts still up for grabs. The National Rally and its allies already won 39 races outright in the first round after they garnered 33.2% of the total vote.

“We’re not seeing the National Rally surging, as if they’d already pulled in the crowds in the first round,” Ifop political polling director François Kraus told Le Figaro newspaper.

  • Sign up for the Paris Edition newsletter for special coverage throughout the French election.

Undeterred by the polls, Jordan Bardella, the president of the National Rally, said he remains “very confident.”

“I think the French want to turn the page,” he said in an interview on France2 TV late Thursday.

President Emmanuel Macron dissolved the lower house of parliament nearly four weeks ago and called a snap vote after his group was trounced in European elections.

After initially being outspoken as campaigning began, the president, whose popularity has slumped in polls, hasn’t been seen in public for several days and his press office said he currently has no speaking engagements scheduled before Sunday.

France has been shaken by the prospect of the far right taking control of the government after spending more than 50 years keeping it at bay. It’s forced several other parties that had been at each other’s throats to swallow their animosity and come up with a largely unified electoral front in order to see off the threat.

The decision to call an election sparked a major selloff in French assets, with the benchmark CAC 40 Index losing as much as 6.5% and the gap between French and German 10-year yields widening to a peak of 86 basis points last week. Both bonds and stocks have since recovered some of their losses as the prospect of Le Pen winning an absolute majority wanes.

The index closed up 0.8% on Thursday, led by banking shares including Societe Generale SA, Credit Agricole SA and BNP Paribas SA. The euro and French bonds were little changed.

Macron’s centrist alliance and the New Popular Front strategically pulled more than 200 candidates from runoff ballots this week to avoid splitting opposition to the far right in an attempt at building what is known in France as the Republican front.

The latest projections suggest the strategy is working. Polling companies had given ranges that stretched as high as 305 seats for the National Rally and its allies after first-round voting ended last Sunday.

“The Republican front could work partly,” OpinionWay Vice-President Bruno Jeanbart told Les Echos newspaper. “It would prevent National Rally getting an absolute majority but wouldn’t stop it becoming the biggest group in the National Assembly.”

The leftist New Popular Front is now projected to win 140 to 200 seats, according to the four surveys, while Macron’s group is on track for between 95 an 162.

Urgent Vote

With polls moving away from the possibility of a majority for Le Pen, political leaders warned of the danger of complacency and a false sense of security that could result in abstentions and blank votes.

“I see all the commentators, all the politicians, acting as if nothing had happened, as if the National Rally could no longer secure an absolute majority,” Socialist leader Raphael Glucksmann said on France2 TV late Thursday. “If we no longer have a sense of urgency, we’re going to wake up with a huge hangover.”

It was a message echoed by French soccer star Kylian Mbappé, who said it was important for people to cast their ballots on Sunday.

“Now more than ever, you have to go vote,” he said at the French national soccer team press conference in Hamburg. “It’s really urgent. We can’t put the country in the hands of these people.”

Although Mbappé didn’t specify the party he was referring to, he had already called on young people last month to vote, citing his values of diversity, tolerance and respect and warning against the “extreme” parties that were at the gates of power.

Ifop, Odoxa and OpinionWay released polls on Thursday. Toluna-Harris Interactive published its survey on Wednesday.

--With assistance from Constantine Courcoulas, Blaise Robinson, Gaspard Sebag and Angelina Rascouet.

(Updates with comment from Bardella in 6th paragraph, Glucksmann in 17th paragraph.)

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.