PARIS — The French far right was projected to win a record number of seats in the election on Sunday, which could make it the third biggest political force in Parliament. It will also secure enough seats to form a parliamentary group for the first time since the 1980s, reflecting its solid political foothold and highlighting the success of Marine Le Pen’s longtime efforts to moderate her party’s image.
Ms. Le Pen’s party, the National Rally, was expected to win between 75 and 100 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly, according to preliminary projections. The party needs to secure only 15 seats to become a parliamentary group, a designation that would give it more public funding and speaking time, and specific legislative powers such as creating special committees.
That result came despite a lackluster legislative campaign by Ms. Le Pen.
After her loss to Emmanuel Macron in the presidential election in April, Ms. Le Pen all but disappeared from the political stage, resurfacing only in May to acknowledge on television that Mr. Macron would most likely secure a majority in Parliament — indirectly conceding defeat in advance.
For several weeks, the National Rally campaigned without any real leadership, failing to drive the public debate around its favorite themes of economic insecurity, immigration and crime. Instead, much of the momentum has been with a coalition of left-wing parties that managed to overtake the far right as the main opposition force to Mr. Macron.
Still, Ms. Le Pen’s party secured about 19 percent of the vote in the first round of the parliamentary elections last week, about a six-point increase from five years ago, allowing 208 of its candidates to advance to a runoff, up from 120 in 2017.
And the seats the National Rally was expected to capture on Sunday will be a significant increase from the eight seats it currently holds.
“This group will be by far the largest in the history of our political family,” Ms. Le Pen said in a speech on Sunday.
She added that her party had achieved the three objectives it had set itself: to prevent Mr. Macron from securing an absolute majority; to continue restructuring France’s political landscape; and to build a strong opposition group.
Forming an official group in Parliament is crucial for the National Rally, which has long struggled financially, and will help raise its profile. The last time the far right secured such a group was when Jean-Marie Le Pen, Ms. Le Pen’s father, led 35 lawmakers into Parliament in 1986.
The legislative elections this month have also cemented Ms. Le Pen’s overwhelming dominance on the right of the political spectrum. Éric Zemmour, a far-right pundit and her main competitor during the presidential election, was knocked out in the first round, as were all of his party’s candidates.