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European leaders react to France result and watch parliament form

Many of France’s allies breathed a sigh of relief at the election result, with Marine Le Pen’s far-right party failing to win a snap election on Sunday (7), but noted that a disorderly coalition in a hung parliament could also cause headaches for Europe.

Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) party was leading in the polls, raising the risk of France’s first far-right government since World War II and threatening to alter the economic and foreign policy of the euro zone’s second-largest economy.

In particular, Ukraine’s allies feared that a government led by Le Pen could go soft on Moscow and reduce the military aid that Kiev has depended on since Russia’s 2022 invasion, even though her party has recently said Russia is a threat.

The National Rally’s defeat signals at least a temporary retreat from the rise of the far right in Europe, but it could herald a period of instability with a new government in an uneasy “cohabitation” with President Emmanuel Macron.

“In Paris, enthusiasm, in Moscow, disappointment, in Kiev, relief. Enough to be happy in Warsaw,” Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said at the X.

Macron called the snap election in a bid to take the wind out of Le Pen’s sails, but his own party fell behind an alliance of left-wing parties that performed much better than expected to take first place.

Many of the first reactions abroad celebrated the fact that the immediate threat of a far-right government had been averted.

“The worst has been avoided,” said Nils Schmid, foreign policy spokesman for Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats in Germany, where the far right has also surged in popularity during a cost-of-living crisis.

“The president is politically weakened, even if he retains a central role in view of the unclear majority situation. Forming a government will be complicated,” Schmid told the Funke media group.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s party congratulated the left-wing alliance, called the New Popular Front, for a victory that “prevents the far right from reaching government.”

Nikos Androulakis, leader of Greece’s socialist PASOK party, said the French people had “built a wall against the far right, racism and intolerance and protected the timeless principles of the French Republic: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.”

An EU official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, called the victory a “huge relief” but added: “What this means for Europe on a day-to-day basis remains to be seen.”

The election left the French Parliament divided between three major groups – the left, the centrists and the far right – with different platforms and no tradition of working together.

The left wants to cap prices of essential goods such as fuel and food, raise the minimum wage and public sector workers’ salaries, at a time when France’s budget deficit is already at 5.5% of output, higher than EU rules allow.

“Goodbye, European deficit limits! (The government) will go broke soon. Poor France. It can console itself with (Kylian) Mbappe,” said Claudio Borghi, a senator from Italy’s right-wing League party, referring to the French soccer star.

Other far-right politicians expressed their frustration.

André Ventura, leader of Portugal’s far-right Chega party, called the result a “disaster for the economy, a tragedy for immigration and bad for the fight against corruption.”

A note from Capital Economics said France may have avoided the “worst possible outcome” for investors, namely an absolute majority for Le Pen or the leftists.

A hung parliament, however, means it will be difficult for any government to pass the budget cuts needed for France to comply with EU budget rules, he said.

Source: CNN Brasil

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