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Far-right parties made major gains in the European Union’s parliamentary elections Sunday, dealing an especially humiliating defeat to French President Emmanuel Macron, who reacted by calling new elections in France for later this month, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The early returns showed the National Rally garnering around 31 percent of the vote, the highest score ever for the far-right party in European Parliament (EP) elections, and double what Macron’s Renaissance Party is projected to win.

In response, Macron said the country will hold new elections for the lower house of the French parliament on June 30 and July 7, a move that stunned the country.

That’s because Macron’s move to dissolve the National Assembly and call new elections is a massive political risk since his party could suffer more losses, hobbling the rest of his presidential term until it ends in 2027.

But he said it was necessary: “I’ve heard your message, your concerns, and I won’t leave them unanswered,” he said, adding that calling a snap election only underscored his democratic credentials.

In Germany, the most populous nation in the 27-member bloc, projections indicated that the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) had overcome a string of scandals to increase its share of the vote to 16.5 percent, coming in second place – and ahead of the Social Democrats of Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Meanwhile, the combined result for the three parties in the German governing coalition barely topped 30 percent.

In Italy, meanwhile, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni more than doubled her seats in the EP, the Associated Press reported.

Despite the big gains for the far right in the bloc’s largest countries, projections showed that the center parties mostly won elsewhere. Final results are expected over the next few days.

The four-day polls for 720 seats in the EP are the world’s second-biggest exercise in democracy. Turnout projections, however, were low – 52 percent.

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