Political parties are urging French voters to participate in the upcoming cliffhanger runoff

Political parties are urging French voters to participate in the upcoming cliffhanger runoff

Political parties from various spectrums are encouraging French voters to turn out in large numbers on Sunday, aiming to influence the outcome as polls suggest the far-right could become the largest party without achieving an absolute majority.

Marine Le Pen‘s eurosceptic, anti-immigration National Rally (RN) topped the parliamentary election’s first round with a third of the vote, opening the prospect of the far right leading a French government for the first time since World War Two.

But after a subsequent series of tactical withdrawals of candidacies from mainstream parties aimed at boosting whoever is best placed to beat the far right, several surveys have projected a drop in the number of seats the RN could win, making an absolute majority even harder to reach.

Le Pen, who has said the “republican front” of mainstream parties shows disdain for her voters, urged them to prove pollsters wrong in the decisive run-off election on Sunday.

“I get the impression that all this is designed to demotivate our voters. Fortunately, I know them and I know they’re highly motivated, so I tell them, really do go and vote,” Le Pen said.

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“We need everybody,” she said on the last official day of campaigning ahead of Sunday’s vote.

An OpinionWay poll for French business daily Les Echos projected the RN winning 205-230 seats, ahead of the leftwing New Popular Front (NFP) with 145-175 seats, and President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist bloc with 130-162 seats.

An Ipsos poll forecast the RN would get 175-205 seats and Ifop pollsters gave an 170-210 estimate.

For a ruling majority, 289 seats are needed in the National Assembly.

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But European Parliament lawmaker Raphael Glucksmann, one of the political leaders of the NFP, warned no one should take those polls for granted.

“Commentators and politicians already speak as if the RN had no absolute majority and congratulate themselves on their efforts to block it … I think that could demobilise voters, and I am worried. There is a tidal wave in favour of the National Rally,” he said.

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