Far-right party leader Jordan Bardella arrives at his Rassemblement National (RN) party's headquarters, in Paris, on July 1, 2024.

“Ah that’s it, it’s starting, they’ve gotten too big for their boots!” On Monday, July 1, in the courtyard of the Assemblée Nationale, a photographer was annoyed that far-right MP Sébastien Chenu barely deigned to grace the cameras with his smile, that of a re-elected MP. Chenu was one of the 39 far-right MPs elected in the first round of France’s snap parliamentary elections on Sunday. Yet, unlike the 31 members of the left-wing Nouveau Front Populaire (NFP) alliance to have been elected, no other far-right MP turned up at the Assemblée Nationale on Monday to pick up their tricolor sash and take – re-take, in almost all cases – the measurements of their offices. Just three years ago, this would have made for a great group photo, something to hang up as a four-by-three meter decoration on the party HQ’s walls, but today? The far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party is now hoping for a 300-strong return to the Assemblée, and to force photographers to take out the wide-angle lens, on Monday, July 8, the day after the second round of the elections.

Therefore, for the time being, it was time for discretion, with the RN’s top brass hunkered down all afternoon at its headquarters, in Paris’ 16th arrondissement, for an executive committee meeting which was expected to decide on the line to be taken between the two rounds. The evening before, RN leader Marine Le Pen and her adviser Renaud Labaye had not ruled out the possibility of withdrawing some of their candidates from races on a case-by-case basis. These would be on the condition that they help favor the election of a Les Républicains (LR, right) candidate who would commit to voting for an RN government’s budget bill, or to defeat a “noxious” candidate, in other words, a particularly radical La France Insoumise (radical left) party member.

The RN made up its mind. “The decision has been taken not to practice any withdrawal,” declared Le Pen to Le Monde. “When you analyze the situations where we came third, there are very few cases where an LR candidate compatible with us came first. Besides, our voters are serious enough to make the right choice.” No sooner had this decision been ratified than it suffered its first exception: In a Corsican constituency, the party withdrew its candidate from a three-way run-off in favor of a right-wing independent candidate, facing off against the incumbent Corsican autonomist MP, whose re-election is now very much in doubt. Another withdrawal is worth noting, though not for strategic reasons: Ludivine Daoudi, the third-place RN candidate in Calvados’s 1st constituency, in Normandy, withdrew her candidacy after a photo of her wearing a Nazi cap was shared on social media.

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