Sun May 26, 2019, 02:38 PM

Macron Humbled in France as Exit Polls Show Le Pen Win

By Helene Fouquet and Gregory Viscusi
May 26, 2019, 2:05 PM EDT Updated on May 26, 2019, 2:13 PM EDT

President Emmanuel Macron is set to suffer a blow in Sunday’s European parliamentary elections with French voters handing victory to Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, according to exit polls.

Macron’s Republic on The Move will have 22.5% of the vote compared with 24% for the nationalist and anti-European Le Pen, according to pollsters Ifop. The Greens were third with 13%, the conservative Republicans got 8% and the Socialists 6.5%. This is Le Pen’s second straight victory in the EU vote. In 2014 she beat the conservatives by 4 percentage points with Macron’s Socialist predecessor Francois Hollande trailing in third.

The result is a setback for the 41-year-old Macron who played a more prominent role in the campaign than any other European leader as he sought to mobilize voters. The president is fighting for legitimacy as he tries to persuade the rest of the European Union to pursue tighter integration. Polls in Germany showed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats came first, although with fewer seats than last time.

“For Macron this was a defining election and it’s him who made it like that,” said Bernard Sananes, president of Elabe polling institute. “Finishing second would mean a sense of isolation in Europe.”

The ballot follows months of protests which have seen looting and vandalism in Paris. Macron responded with a raft of new spending plans and tax cuts to appease the Yellow Vest movement but the measures failed to convince voters.


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