Paris (AFP) – The far-right National Rally party led by Marine Le Pen looked set to finish top in European elections in France on Sunday, dealing a blow to pro-European President Emmanuel Macron.

Le Pen’s National Rally looked on track for around 24-24.2 percent, with Macron’s centrist alliance trailing with 22.5-23.0 percent, according to exit polls from Ifop-Fiducial and Harris Interactive-Agence Epoka.

The head of the National Rally campaign, 23-year-old Jordan Bardella, called the results a “failure” for the LREM ruling party and sought to portray Macron’s defeat as a rejection by voters of his pro-business agenda in France and pro-EU vision.

“The gains for our allies in Europe and the emergence of new forces across the continent… open the way for the formation of a powerful group in the European parliament,” Bardella told cheering supporters.

Le Pen, who lost out to Macron in a bitter presidential election in 2017, called for the head of state to dissolve the parliament and call new elections, a proposal that was immediately rejected by the government.

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