French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Sunday (Monday AEST) that he is dissolving the National Assembly and calling for a snap legislative election after his party’s significant defeat in the European Parliament elections.

In a televised address from the Elysee Palace, Macron stated, “I’ve decided to give you back the choice of our parliamentary future through the vote. I am therefore dissolving the National Assembly.”

The election will be held in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. This decision follows preliminary results showing the far-right National Rally party leading the European Union’s parliamentary election, surpassing Macron’s pro-European centrists. According to French polling institutes, Marine Le Pen’s nationalist party is expected to receive around 31-32% of the votes, more than double the projected 15% for Macron’s Renaissance party.

Although Macron was not a candidate in the EU elections, his presidential term continues for three more years. He emphasized the seriousness of his decision, highlighting his “confidence in our democracy, in letting the sovereign people have their say.”

“In the next few days, I’ll be saying what I think is the right direction for the nation. I’ve heard your message, your concerns, and I won’t leave them unanswered,” he said.

In the last legislative elections of 2022, Macron’s centrist party won the most seats but lost its majority in the National Assembly, leading to political maneuvering to pass bills. With this latest move, Macron risks increasing Le Pen’s chances of gaining power. If an opposition party wins a parliamentary majority, it could result in a challenging power-sharing situation, known as “cohabitation,” requiring Macron to appoint a prime minister with differing views.

Le Pen, who leads the National Rally group in the National Assembly, welcomed Macron’s decision. “We’re ready for it,” she said, expressing her party’s readiness to take power and address issues such as mass immigration and purchasing power.

The EU election results were a setback for Macron, who has been promoting Europe-wide efforts to support Ukraine and enhance EU defenses and industry. National Rally’s lead candidate, Jordan Bardella, campaigned for stricter national border controls and a reduction in EU climate regulations. Although the party no longer seeks to exit the EU and the euro, it aims to weaken the EU from within.

“Tonight, our compatriots have expressed a desire for change,” Bardella said. “Emmanuel Macron is tonight a weakened president.”

An official from Macron’s office justified the decision to dissolve the National Assembly by citing the “historic score of the far-right” and the current “parliamentarian disorder.” “You’re never wrong when you give the people a say,” the official stated anonymously.

The projections also indicate a resurgence of the Socialist Party, which campaigned on more ambitious climate policies and protections for European businesses and workers, securing about 14% of the votes. In response to Macron’s announcement, far-left politician Francois Ruffin called on all left-wing leaders, including the Greens, to unite under a single “Popular Front” banner to prevent a worse outcome and strive for victory.

France is electing 81 members of the European Parliament, which has a total of 720 seats.