Macron calls snap French election and Belgian PM to quit after right-wing gains across Europe in EU vote

10 June 2024, 06:50 | Updated: 10 June 2024, 07:02

French President Emmanuel Macron has dissolved the National Assembly and called new parliamentary elections after a defeat in a European vote.
French President Emmanuel Macron has dissolved the National Assembly and called new parliamentary elections after a defeat in a European vote. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

French President Emmanuel Macron has called new parliamentary elections after his party's poor performance in the EU elections, part of a pattern of right-wing success across Europe.

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In a televised speech, President Macron said: "This is a serious, heavy decision, but above all it is an act of trust," after his Renaissance party gained less than half of the votes that Marine Le Pen's National Rally won.

The surge of the right in France was a trend that was repeated across much of the EU in the weekend's elections.

In Belgium, the Liberal party of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo took only 7% of the vote, causing him to step down.

In Germany, far-right party Alternativ fur Deutschland made gains despite scandals, including its lead candidate claiming that the SS were "not all criminals".

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In Italy, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's right-wing Brothers of Italy party won the EU elections, gaining 28% of the vote.

In Spain, the Conservative People’s party just beat out the Socialist Workers party to finish first, with the far-right Se Acabó la Fiesta winning three seats in its first election.

But in Denmark, Sweden, Romania and Malta, socialist parties won large shares of the vote, helping the centre-left remain the second-largest group in the EU Parliament.

And overall, centre-right, pro-European parties are on course to remain the largest bloc. EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen's European People’s party won the largest number of seats.

France's President Emmanuel Macron
France's President Emmanuel Macron. Picture: Getty

There remains a majority in the centre for a strong Europe and that is crucial for stability. In other words the centre is holding

He said that he trusts "the capacity of French people to make the best choice for them and for future generations.

"Let the sovereign people speak," he said.

He added that France needs a "clear majority in order to be able to work with serenity and harmony".

The poll's first round will take place on June 30 - with the second coming a week later on July 7.

Paris, France. 09th June, 2024. French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech
The French President has called elections one year early after the far-right surged in the country's European elections. Picture: Alamy

The Ensemble coalition, including Mr Macron's party, is currently the largest party in the National Assembly but does not have a majority.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has welcomed the decision to call a snap election.

She said: "This historic vote shows that when people vote, people win.

"We are ready to take over power if the French give us their trust in the upcoming national elections.

"We are ready to exercise power, to end mass migration, to prioritise purchasing power, ready to make France live again."

Ms Le Pen's far-right National Rally won more than 30% of the vote in the party - more than double Mr Macron's Renaissance party (15%).

In Belgium, Mr De Croo said: "This is a very difficult evening for us - we have lost.

"From tomorrow I will be the outgoing prime minister. But we liberals are strong, and we will be back."

And Ms Von Der Leyen struck a defiant note. She said: "There remains a majority in the centre for a strong Europe and that is crucial for stability. In other words the centre is holding."

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