PARIS — A little more than a month ago, France’s far-right seemed on the cusp of power.
But the populist fervor that swept Britain and the United States never reached the same pitch in France, and the National Front fell into disarray when Emmanuel Macron crushed Marine Le Pen in May’s presidential election. Now, the party is facing the reality that it will have minimal representation in Parliament.
While Le Pen had hoped that her party might serve as the principal opposition to Macron’s majority, the National Front earned only eight of the 577 parliamentary seats, according to totals from Sunday’s second round of voting. The result was particularly stunning given that the party had gotten more than one-third of the votes cast in the final round of the presidential election.
There was, however, a silver lining: a seat for Le Pen herself, a small but symbolic victory that some said would enshrine the far-right leader in France’s political establishment.
In her victory speech, Le Pen, elected in the northern, industrial constituency of Hénin-Beaumont, insisted her party retained an important role. “Facing a bloc that represents the interests of the oligarchy, we are the only force of resistance,” she said.
Le Pen has been a presence in French political life for decades, although she’s never held a major office in the national government. While her father, the convicted Holocaust denier Jean-Marie Le Pen, and her niece, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, have both served in France’s Parliament, she never has.
For political analysts, her victory strengthened her personal brand and her chances of remaining party leader. The National Front’s total number of parliamentary seats also rose from two to eight — an expansion but far short of what the party had expected.
“The victory of Marine Le Pen is an important thing for her personal image,” said Jean-Yves Camus, a leading expert on the radical right. “If her leadership is contested, she can say…