France celebrates after coalition of left-wing parties thwarts far-right power struggle


PARIS (AP) — The unexpected fireworks lit up the Place de la Republique in Paris.

For the thousands of French people who took to the streets on Sunday to celebrate the results of the second round of the parliamentary elections, the outcome came as a great relief.

For the leaders of the left-wing coalition New Popular Front, which unexpectedly thwarted the rise of the far right, it was time to celebrate. Olivier Fauréthe leader of the Socialist Party, clenched his fist during his victory speech after the final round of voting.

The founder of the hard-left France Unbowed party, Jean-Luc Melenchon, has vowed to carry out all his campaign promises. Easier said than done, critics said, with the country facing a hung parliament after none of the main groups managed to muster a majority of 289 seats to govern alone.

Polls before Sunday’s election showed the far right in power for the first time since World War II, so the New Popular Front’s victory came as a surprise.

While far-right supporters stayed home, others gathered outside to celebrate the repudiation of Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration Rassemblement National party. In Paris’ Place de la Republique, people chanted together, waved blue-white-and-red flags and set off fireworks. There were also some tensions and a few bicycles were burned during the night, but no major incidents were reported.

And it wasn’t just Paris that celebrated. Protesters waved French flags and set off smoke flares in the western city of Nantes, while in Lyon two women sat on either side of a large rose, a long-standing symbol of the Socialist Party.

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