French far right likely to fall short of absolute majority, poll shows

Marine Le Pen reacts after first round results of the 2024 snap legislative elections

PARIS (Reuters) -France's far-right National Rally party is set to fall short of an absolute majority in Sunday's parliamentary election run-off, an opinion poll showed on Thursday, suggesting efforts by mainstream parties to block the far right might be working.

It was the second survey in as many days to show Marine Le Pen's RN winning more seats than any other party, but also missing the 289 threshold required for an absolute majority.

This suggested that a "republican front," by which more than 200 candidates across the political spectrum pulled out of three-way second rounds over the past days to clear the path for whoever was best placed to defeat the RN option in their district, seemed to be yielding results.

Meanwhile, France national soccer team captain Kylian Mbappe urged voters to cast their ballot after what he called a "catastrophic" first round that saw the RN take first place last Sunday.

"I think that more than ever we have to go and vote, it's really urgent. We can't leave our country in the hands of these people, it's really urgent," he said, in what seemed to be a clear reference to the RN.

The IFOP poll for LCI and Le Figaro showed the RN winning 210 to 240 seats, down from 240-270 before the withdrawals.

The leftist New Popular Front was seen in second place, with 170 to 200 seats, ahead of President Emmanuel Macron's centrist Together group with 95 to 125 seats. The conservative Republicans were forecast to win 25 to 45 seats.

On Wednesday, a Harris Interactive poll forecast 190 to 220 seats for the RN.

The RN have said they would not run the government if they do not gain the absolute majority they would need to have free rein.

Le Pen and party chief Jordan Bardella have also repeatedly criticised the "republican front," saying it showed disdain for their voters.

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq, Tassilo Hummel, Sophie Louet; writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Bill Berkrot)