According to initial estimates, Marine Le Pen’s National Front has won the European elections in France, with 25% of votes, or around 23 seats. EURACTIV France reports.
Following the FN is the Conservative party UMP, with 20% of the vote, ahead of the Socialist Party, who only received 14.7%, according to pollster Ipsos Steria.
With 10% of the votes, the centrist UDI-Modem alliance won its bid to make a double-digit score, while the Greens made a better-than-expected showing, with 9%.
The Left Front of Jean-Luc Mélenchon took 7%, while none of the many small party lists passed the 5% threshold necessary to win a seat in the European Parliament.
French politicians interviewed on television spoke of a repeat 2002 French presidential election, which saw Jean-Marie Le Pen qualify for the second round, together with Jacques Chirac.
With potentially 23 MEPs out of 74, the National Front will send the biggest French delegation to the Parliament. Some analysts believe this could significantly diminish France’s influence at the European level.
With 74 MEPs in total, France has the second largest delegation in the European Parliament after Germany, which numbers 96.
But with only 49 members outside the FN, France will see its actual influence fall behind that of Spain, Poland, Italy, the United Kingdom and Germany.
“The real problem is what this is going to look like in the European Parliament? This is the real issue,” said José Bové, the leader of the French Greens.
The Elysée says lessons should be drawn from the elections, adding that it was a major event. The Elysée has organised an emergency meeting with all the ministers in charge of European topics first thing Monday morning. Harlem Désir, in charge of European affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that its duty was to “reconcile French people with Europe”.
Le Pen said that national elections should be organised in the National Assembly to reflect the new division of power. She also stated that Prime Minister Manuel Valls should resign.
Le Pen’s political allies did less well than expected. The Dutch far-right Freedom Party, led by Geert Wilders, lost of its five seats after coming third in the Dutch EU elections. Flemish nationalist party Vlaams Belang made a poor showing in the Belgian federal elections, losing ground to the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA).
Austria’s far-right FPÖ made significant gains, however, winning some 20% of the vote, compared to 7.3% in 2009.
Analysts say that Le Pen may struggle to form a large coalition in the European Parliament, with other eurosceptic parties, such as the UK Independence Party and Alternative for Germany, refusing an alliance with the French party.