France celebrates as left-wing coalition stops far-right from seizing power

PARIS (AP) — Unexpected fireworks lit up Paris’ Place de la Republique.

The result came as a huge relief to thousands of French people who took to the streets on Sunday to celebrate the outcome of the parliamentary runoff elections.

It was a time to celebrate for leaders of the left-wing coalition, the New Popular Front, which had unexpectedly thwarted the advance of the far-right. Olivier FaureThe Socialist Party leader clenched his fist in a victory speech after the final vote.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, founder of the far-left party Unbowed France, has promised to follow through on all his election promises, though critics say that’s easier said than done: the country now faces a hung parliament, with none of the major parties able to muster the 289-seat majority needed to govern on their own.

The New Popular Front’s victory came as a surprise, as opinion polls before Sunday’s vote had suggested the far-right would be put in power for the first time since World War II.

While far-right supporters stayed home, others gathered outdoors to celebrate the rejection of Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration Rally National party. In Paris’ Place de la Republique, people joined together to chant slogans, wave blue, white and red flags and set off fireworks. Tensions flared slightly overnight and a bicycle was burned, but no major incidents were reported.

Paris was not the only city celebrating: protesters in the western city of Nantes waved French flags and fired flares, while in Lyon two women sat on either side of a large rose, a long-standing symbol of the Socialist party.

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