Marine Le Pen's far-right National Rally party leads in first round of French election

Marine Le Pen's far-right National Rally party has secured the biggest vote share in the first round of France's parliamentary elections.

After the first round of voting on Sunday, National Rally had a strong lead at 33.14%, followed by the left-wing New Popular Front coalition on 27.99%. Ensemble, which includes President Emmanuel Macron's Renaissance party, trailed behind on 20.76%, according to France's interior ministry.

Addressing supporters in Henin-Beaumont, northern France, Ms Le Pen said: "For the moment nothing is won, and the second round will determine the outcome."

France faces a new political reality

She warned voters to "be careful" in the coming days, and urged them to "mobilise" ahead of the second round on 7 July.

The result is almost double the 18% National Rally achieved in the 2022 elections and puts them in good stead to become the largest party in France's lower house.

France has a semi-presidential system - these elections are for the 577 seats in the National Assembly.

Mr Macron is the president and was elected in a separate presidential vote.

The system means there is both a president and prime minister - who have separate powers.

Mr Macron called an early parliamentary election after his Renaissance party was decimated by Ms Le Pen's anti-immigration one in the European elections.

Her 28-year-old protégé and party leader Jordan Bardella has enjoyed a spike in popularity, particularly among younger voters on TikTok, amid increasing discontent with Mr Macron.

Read more:
Who are National Rally?

He told supporters in Paris on Sunday evening: "Three weeks after the European elections the French people have given a verdict and they have confirmed their clear hopes for change.

"This is giving us hope throughout the country."

He warned of the "dangers" of the second-place left-wing coalition and said its leader Jean-Luc Melenchon could put France in "existential peril".

Mr Bardella therefore urged his supporters to rally ahead of the next vote and said "victory is possible" on 7 July.

Although the two-round vote means the final result may not be totally clear until next week, if National Rally ends up as the largest party, Mr Macron would be compelled to make him prime minister.

The French president and prime minister have been from different political parties only three times in its history.