France’s far right is getting more and more popular and is now in parliament.
The National Rally, which is led by Marine Le Pen, now has a place of power in the political system and a chance to prove itself to voters.
In parliamentary elections in 2017, Marine Le Pen and her allies won only a few seats. She blamed France’s two-round voting system for keeping her party out of Parliament, even though over a million votes were cast in favor of her party.
“We won eight seats in the National Assembly,” she said bitterly, referring to the lower and more powerful house of Parliament. “We are worth 80, in my opinion.”
Fast forward to the parliamentary elections that took place last week. The way people vote hasn’t changed, but Ms. Le Pen is now beaming because 89 new lawmakers were elected, which is a record for her party, which is now called the National Rally.
On Wednesday, she hugged and kissed all of her new colleagues before leading them into the National Assembly and taking a picture of the whole group.
Ms. Le Pen told a crowd of TV cameras and microphones, “You’ll see that we’ll get a lot of work done with great skill and seriousness.” “That’s not what you usually say about us,” she told the reporters who had gathered.
For decades, the French far right couldn’t get very far in local or national elections because of its bad reputation and people’s doubts about its ability to run the country well. However, it was able to capture the anger of France’s disillusioned and unhappy people. In April, President Emmanuel Macron beat Ms. Le Pen in the election for president.
But the National Rally did very well in the parliamentary election last weekend. This was the end of Ms. Le Pen’s years-long quest for respectability as she tries to clean up the image of her party, give it an air of competence, and put a softer face on her platform of being strongly nationalist and against immigrants.
Even the National Rally’s own members were surprised by the results, which were made possible by the collapse of the “republican front” that mainstream parties and voters usually put up against the far right. This “front” was made up of people who didn’t like Mr. Macron and who voted for them.
Philippe Olivier, Ms. Le Pen’s brother-in-law and special adviser, called the party’s 89 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly “a tidal wave” and said he would be lying if he said he wasn’t surprised.
The National Rally is now the second largest party in Parliament, behind Mr. Macron’s party. Mr. Macron lost his absolute majority and is now struggling to find enough lawmakers to pass his bills, which could force him to work with a resurgent opposition.