Marine Le Pen, fresh from her presidential drubbing, took the seat with a 59% share of the vote
Marine Le Pen celebrated a political first after she was finally elected to the French Assembly in yesterday’s second-round parliamentary election, though her personal victory stood at odds with the poor performance of her right-wing National Front party.
The 48-year-old was easily defeated in the French presidential election on May 7th by centrist Emmanuel Macron, earning just 34% of the vote. But Le Pen commanded an impressive 59% of the turnout to claim the seat in Henin-Beaumont, a former mining town in northern France.
Le Pen topped the poll against 12 rivals in the first round of voting, and went on to topple Anne Rouquet, respresenting Macron’s La République en Marche (REM) party which claimed a majority with 308 seats.
“We are the only force of resistance to the watering down of France, of its social model and its identity,” Le Pen said during her acceptance speech.
“We will express this defence in our own way in the National Assembly.”
But despite the FN’s show of might in the presidential campaign, the anti-EU, anti-immigration party saw its populist support fail to convert into actual seats, claiming just eight out of the 577. It will be a major blow to the party, which pollsters thought could claim as many as 50 seats when Le Pen made it through to the final of the presidential vote.
French President Emmanuel Macron greets his supporters after he voted at the city hall in the second round of the parliamentary elections in Le Touquet, France on June 18, 2017. Photo by Romain Gaillard/Pool/ABACAPRESS.COM
Six years after ousting her own father as FN leader in an attempt to clean up the party’s reputation in light of decades of xenophobic, homophobic, and anti-Semitic rhetoric, Le Pen could at least take solace in knowing she’s improved the parliamentary standing of the party from two seats to eight.
But the result has widely been regarded as a political drubbing to an already bruised Le Pen. Reacting to the poor performance of the National Front, she argued against the French electoral system, demanding that proportional representation be introduced in order to better reflect the will of the people.
“It’s a scandal that our party picked up 7.6m votes in the first round of the presidential election and 3m in the second round but cannot form a group in the French parliament,” Le Pen said.
Parties that secure more than 15 seats in France have greater access to public finances, office space and meeting rooms. They are also granted more speaking time when it comes to parliamentary questions time, as well as more opportunities to serve in committee positions.
To add insult to injury, the National Front’s main rivals on the fringes of French politics performed better than anticipated. The far-left France Insoumise (Unbowed France) took 17 seats in total, earning enough to form a parliamentary group.