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French voters handed a newly formed leftist coalition a shock victory in the second round of parliamentary elections on Sunday, defying predictions that the far right would win big for the first time in French history, the Associated Press wrote.

The New Popular Front – an alliance of five parties ranging from the far-left France Unbowed to the Socialists and the Ecologists – won 182 seats, CNN reported.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s center-right Ensemble political coalition came in second with 163 seats, while Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National (RN) came third with 143 seats.

RN’s loss came as a surprise to many, including its leader and supporters, who had expected the party to dominate the election. The New Popular Front had assembled to defeat RN and the group’s various parties stood candidates down in many seats to enable single candidates to accumulate enough votes to beat RN.

The election came roughly a month after Macron shocked the country by calling early elections after his allies suffered a significant defeat by the RN in the European parliamentary polls in June.

Last week, his party took a beating during the first round, which put the RN in first place with 33 percent of the vote, followed by the leftists with 28 percent and Macron’s center-right with 20 percent.

Voter turnout on Sunday was around 61 percent, the highest level since 1981.

But the result leaves no single party or bloc anywhere near the tally of 289 seats required for a parliamentary majority. Leftist leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon has ruled out a coalition with Macron’s center alliance, which could throw France into political turmoil just as it prepares to host the Paris Olympics in less than three weeks.

“Our country is facing an unprecedented political situation and is preparing to welcome the world in a few weeks,” said French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, who plans to offer his resignation on Monday.

Meanwhile, across the English Channel, new British Prime Minister Keir Starmer got quickly to work, saying he is planning to “reset” the United Kingdom’s relations with its member states and international partners, after his Labour Party secured a major victory in the July 4 elections that ended 14 years of Conservative dominance, NBC News reported.

Results of Thursday’s elections showed Labour won 412 seats in the 650-seat Parliament, while the Conservatives secured only 121 seats, the latter party’s worst results in its almost 200-year history.

King Charles III formally appointed Starmer as prime minister following the final results Friday, swiftly replacing his Conservative counterpart Rishi Sunak.

Starmer declared that the country “has voted decisively for change, for national renewal and a return of politics to public service.” He quickly began forming his cabinet over the weekend, already filling the important posts of treasury chief, foreign secretary and home secretary.

The new government will face the monumental task of lifting up a post-Brexit UK, as the country grapples with numerous issues, including a stagnant economy, collapsing public services and a dysfunctional National Health Service, the Associated Press added.

Among these are the UK’s relations with its own nations – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, albeit with England dominant – which have been strained under the Conservatives’ governance. On Sunday, Starmer began a tour of the British nations to “reset” relations with them, the Financial Times added.

Meanwhile, the Labour government will also have to take action to stem migration.

During their governance, the Conservatives tried to stop the flow of migrants and refugees arriving on small boats crossing the English Channel. Sunak and his predecessor Boris Johnson created a scheme to deport migrants and asylum seekers arriving illegally in the UK to Rwanda.

So far no flights have taken place while the plan has cost the government hundreds of millions of dollars.

Starmer had criticized the policy as a “gimmick” and announced it was “dead and buried” shortly after taking office, the BBC noted. Even so, observers told the British broadcaster that ending the plan will raise new questions, such as the total bill taxpayers will face for scrapping the scheme and the fate of 52,000 migrants scheduled for deportation.

Regarding its international partners, Starmer and his cabinet will also work to improve relations with its allies in the European Union, strained since the UK’s exit from the bloc in 2020. Newly-appointed Foreign Secretary David Lammy said Saturday that it was time “to reset our relationship with our European friends and allies,” according to Politico.

The new prime minister is also planning to travel to the US for a NATO meeting this week and will host the European Political Community summit on July 18.

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