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France to vote in election that could put far right in government

French voters cast their ballots on Sunday in the first round of a snap parliamentary election that could usher in the country’s first far-right government since World War Two, a potential sea change at the heart of the European Union.

President Emmanuel Macron stunned the country when he called the vote after his centrist alliance was crushed in European elections this month by Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN). Her eurosceptic, anti-immigrant party was a longtime pariah but is now closer to power than it has ever been.

Polls open at 0600 GMT, closing at 1600 GMT in small towns and cities, and at 1800 GMT in the bigger cities, when the first exit polls for the night and seat projections for the decisive second round a week later are expected.

However the electoral system can make it hard to estimate the precise distribution of seats in the 577-seat National Assembly, and the final outcome will not be known until the end of voting on July 7.

We are going to win an absolute majority,” said Le Pen in a newspaper interview on Wednesday, predicting that her protégé, 28-year-old Jordan Bardella would be prime minister.

Her party has a high-spending economic programme and seeks to reduce immigration. If the RN does win an absolute majority, French diplomacy could be headed for an unprecedented period of turbulence, with Macron who has said he will continue his presidency until the end of his term in 2027 and Bardella jostling for the right to speak for France.

Source: BBC

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