Who are France's left-wing New Popular Front alliance?

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 07: People are seen celebrating on the statue of Marianne on the Place de la Republique to celebrate after the Nouveau Front Populaire, an alliance of left wing parties including the far-left wing party, La France Insoumise came in first on July 07, 2024 in Paris, France. The National Rally party was expected to have a strong showing in the second round of France's legislative election, which was called by the French president last month after his party performed poorly in the European election, but first projections have shown an unexpected lead for French left wing alliance New Popular Front. (Photo by Remon Haazen/Getty Images)
French people celebrate the New Popular Front's election victory in Paris. (Getty Images) (Remon Haazen via Getty Images)

France woke up to huge political uncertainty on Monday after shock projections in the second round of its parliamentary elections forecast a left-wing coalition had beaten the far-right National Rally party.

The final results are expected later, but exit polls predict that Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella's National Rally, widely expected to win the vote, were beaten into third place.

The New Popular Front looks set to have 182 seats, with 168 for Macron's Ensemble alliance and 143 for the far-right National Rally. That means none of the groups will have the 289 seats required for a majority, and a hung parliament is looming.

A senior member of the New Popular Front said on Monday that the alliance will choose a candidate for prime minister from within their winning coalition in the coming days.

An official poster of the candidate of the new popular front, the ecologist Marie Pochon in the legislative elections in the 3rd constituency of Drome on an official electoral panel with the slogan To live better in our countryside in the middle of fields and greenery in the village of Leoncel in the Vercors Massif in the south-east of France, July 2, 2024. (Photo by Nicolas Guyonnet / Hans Lucas / Hans Lucas via AFP) (Photo by NICOLAS GUYONNET/Hans Lucas/AFP via Getty Images)
An election poster for the New Popular Front in the village of Leoncel in the south east of France. (AFP via Getty Images) (NICOLAS GUYONNET via Getty Images)

The New Popular Front, or Nouveau Front populaire (NFP), is a broad left-wing alliance of socialist, communist and green parties specifically set up to keep out the French far-right.

It comprises the political parties France Unbowed, the Socialist Party, The Ecologists, the French Communist Party, Génération.s, Place Publique, and several other left-leaning parties and groups.

The name of the coalition is a reference to the anti-fascist Popular Front which won the French election in 1936.

A month ago, the New Popular Front did not exist.

The alliance was hastily established on 10 June, the day after Macron called snap elections in the wake of National Rally's victory in the European Parliament poll.

Watch: Leftist coalition wins most seats in French elections, pollsters say

While the parties in the New Popular Front have their differences, they agreed to put those aside in order to keep National Rally out of power. Its leader, Jordan Bardella, called them a "dishonourable alliance" in the wake of Sunday's results forecast.

The New Popular Front wants to scrap pension and immigration reforms introduced in recent years, as well as increasing public sector salaries and welfare benefits, and freezing the price of basic food items and energy. This would be funded through a wealth tax and by raising income tax on high earners.

Founder of left-wing party La France Insoumise (LFI) Jean-Luc Melenchon speaks during the election night of the party following the first results of the second round of France's legislative election at La Rotonde Stalingrad in Paris on July 7, 2024. A broad left-wing coalition was leading a tight French legislative election, ahead of both President's centrists and the far right with no group winning an absolute majority, projections showed. (Photo by Sameer Al-Doumy / AFP) (Photo by SAMEER AL-DOUMY/AFP via Getty Images)
Jean-Luc Melenchon celebrates the New Popular Front victory. (AFP via Getty Images) (SAMEER AL-DOUMY via Getty Images)

A French far-left politician, Mélenchon, 72, is the founder of France Unbowed, or La France Insoumise (LFI), and a key figure in the New Popular Front.

In the wake of the election outcome, he said: "The president must call on the New Popular Front to govern."

Seen as a controversial firebrand by his critics, Mélenchon is the son of a post office worker and a teacher and was born in Tangier, now Morocco, before moving to France at the age of 11, and joining the Socialist Party at the age of 25.

He has run for president in France on three occasions, in 2012, 2017 and 2022, and in that last year was 1.2% away from reaching the second round of voting.

France faces a hung parliament and the prospect of taxing negotiations to form a new government. The result delivered a stinging blow to President Macron and leaves the eurozone's second-largest economy in limbo, heralding a period of political instability just weeks before Paris hosts the Olympic Games.

The current prime minister, Gabriel Attal, has said he would tender his resignation, but it was not clear whether Macron would accept it immediately, given the daunting task ahead to form a government.

Melenchon said the new prime minister should hail from NFP. However, the bloc has no leader, and its parties are strongly divided over who they could select as a suitable premier. Regardless of who is selected from the leftist bloc, it wil be difficult for them and Macron to form a successful working relationship and leaves France set for a period of instability.

As for the far-right RN party, Marine Le Pen - who will likely be the party's candidate for the 2027 presidential election - put a positive spin on Sunday's ballot. Despite the defeat, the RN made major gains compared with previous elections. "Our victory has been merely delayed," she said.

  • Bubble bursts for France's far-right as voters bar it from power. "The projected result brought to a shuddering halt what had appeared to be the far right's relentless rise in France." [Reuters]

  • French left-wing campaigners 'relieved' but uncertain for future. "Outside the electoral parties, onlookers honked from cars and people in the streets chanted the coalition’s name “Popular Front,” which refers back to a 1936 alliance that won French legislative elections." [Euronews]

  • Le Pen’s party blocked from power. "A high turnout suggested tactical voting for and anti-Le Pen voting pacts in more than 200 constituencies paid off for the Left and Macron." [The Telegraph]

  • French voters deliver a win for the left and a hung parliament. "The election will leave parliament divided in three big groups - the left, centrists, and the far right - with hugely different platforms and no tradition at all of working together." [Reuters]

  • France election: What the result means and how a new government can be formed. "This result means none of the three blocs can form a majority government and would need support from others to pass legislation." [Sky News]