French president Macron calls election after far-right thrashes his party in EU vote

The far-right has done well in elections to the European parliament—well enough to dominate headlines, but not quite well enough to win. With the center ground crumbling underfoot, EU president Ursula von der Leyen will now need support from both left and right to do whatever it is the EU does. But Marine le Pen's National Front did so well in France that president Emmanuel Macron smelled toast burning and called a surprise general election there.

Macron's shock decision set off a political earthquake in France, offering the far-right a shot at real political power after years on the sidelines and threatening to neuter his presidency three years before it ends.

If Le Pen's National Rally (RN) party wins a parliamentary majority, Macron would be left with little sway over domestic affairs.

Macron said the EU result was grim for his government, and one he could not ignore. In an address to the nation, less than two months before Paris hosts the Olympics, he said lower house elections would be called for June 30, with a second-round vote on July 7.

It's the Sunak Strategy, but with a different order of battle. The French center is in a stronger position against its far-right than the British right is against its center, so demanding satisfaction makes more sense.

Speaking of the UK election, new polls suggest a Canadian-style wipeout for the Conservative Party there, and all eyes are on Nigel Farage, whose Reform party is soaking up the Tory vote like a big racist sponge. But in electoral terms this is good news for other parties, as Reform's appeal is so unique to depressed conservatives that it is unlikely to win any seats. The parliamentary outcome of Tory annihilation, should it occur, is not "Clacton MP Nigel Farage" but "Leader of the Opposition Ed Davey."