France is voting in a parliamentary election this Sunday that could make history, as the far-right National Rally (RN) led by Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella is closer to power than ever.

They are leading in the polls, following their win in the European elections three weeks ago. President Emmanuel Macron responded to their win by calling for a national vote.

Over 2.6 million people out of 49 million voters have registered to vote by proxy, indicating high voter turnout. This election has two rounds, with most of the 577 National Assembly seats decided in next Sunday’s run-off vote.

The quick 20-day campaign benefited RN, which focused on promises about immigration, security, and tax cuts to address the cost-of-living crisis. Bardella aims to be RN’s first prime minister but will only take the job if they win an absolute majority of 289 seats. If not, there could be a hung parliament.

RN’s opponents will need to decide whom to back in the run-offs to prevent RN from gaining an absolute majority. The left-wing alliance called New Popular Front, which includes parties like the Socialists and the Greens, could challenge RN in many run-offs.

RN has tried to shed its extremist image with policies like cutting VAT on energy and exempting under-30s from income tax.

However, some voters still have concerns about RN’s plans, such as ending automatic citizenship for children born to foreign parents if they meet certain conditions.

Macron’s Ensemble alliance is expected to lose seats, and Prime Minister Gabriel Attal’s position is uncertain, even though he is popular.

Former President François Hollande, now a candidate for the New Popular Front, criticized Macron’s decision to call a snap election, saying it disrupted the country’s focus on events like Euro 2024 and the upcoming Paris Olympics.

Tensions are high, and there are warnings of potential violence after the second round. Macron plans to meet with his government to discuss their next steps.

He argues that his alliance is the only one that can block both the far right and the far left. The far left, represented by Mathilde Panot of France Unbowed, also claims to be the last defense against the far right.

Public figures like NBA star Victor Wembanyama and football captain Kylian Mbappé are urging voters to avoid extreme parties, but the deep divisions and short time frame make it challenging to form a united front against RN.

For a unique perspective: This election highlights the changing political landscape in France, where traditional alliances are shifting, and the far right is gaining unprecedented support.

Credit: BBC.

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