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Monday Briefing: The French far right appeared to triumph

The National Rally party crushed its opponents in the first round of voting for the French National Assembly, according to early projections, bringing its long-taboo brand of nationalist, anti-immigrant politics to the brink of power.

Pollsters’ projections, which are normally reliable, suggested the party would take about 34 percent of the vote, far ahead of President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Renaissance party and its allies, which got about 21 percent. A coalition of left-wing parties won about 29 percent of the vote, the projections showed.

The scores, in a two-round election that will end in a runoff on July 7 between the leading parties in each constituency, do not provide a precise forecast of the number of parliamentary seats each party will secure. But the National Rally now looks very likely to be the largest force in the lower house, although not necessarily with an absolute majority.

For Macron, the result represented a severe setback after he gambled that his party’s stinging defeat to the National Rally in the recent European Parliament election would not be repeated. His decision to hold the election now, just weeks before the Paris Olympics, astonished many people in France — not least his own prime minister, who was kept in the dark.

What’s next: Macron called “for a large, clearly democratic and republican alliance” to win out in the second round of voting, but he has struggled to form stable coalitions.

Analysis: Both France and the U.S. face nationalist forces that could undo their international commitments and pitch the world into uncharted territory.