France's Macron calls for snap election after losing big to the far right in EU vote

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a meeting with members of the AI sector at the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris, France, on May 21, 2024.

Yoan Valat | Afp | Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday said he would dissolve the country’s parliament and call for a new legislative nationwide vote after suffering a heavy defeat at EU elections.

The shock announcement came after exit polls published by public broadcaster France TV indicated that Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally (RN) is set to win around 31.5% of the vote, compared to 15.2% for Macron’s Renaissance party.

“I will … not be able, at the end of this day, to act as if nothing had happened,” Macron said in a TV address, according to a translation by CNBC.

After requesting that Macron call an election, Le Pen welcomed the news, saying on X: “We are ready for it.

It’s a risky move by Macron, who could be left with no control over France’s domestic issues if RN wins a parliamentary majority. Macron’s presidency isn’t due to end until 2027 and he’s unable to stand for a third term.

The first round of the parliamentary election will take place on June 30, with the second round on July 7, Macron said.

Polls closed on Sunday after the final, and biggest, day of voting in elections for members of European Parliament, with populist, far-right parties winning record support, according to early data.

The center-right European People’s Party (EPP) is once again projected to win the most parliamentary seats, however, with slightly more seats than before.

This is a developing story and will be updated shortly.

— CNBC’s Charlotte Reed contributed to this report.

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