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French opposition parties on the left and right seek alliances ahead of snap elections

Posted 6/11/24

NICE, France (AP) — Empowered by a stunning triumph at the European elections, France’s far-right National Rally on Tuesday hit the national campaign trail running with its star leader, Jordan …

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French opposition parties on the left and right seek alliances ahead of snap elections

Posted

NICE, France (AP) — Empowered by a stunning triumph at the European elections, France’s far-right National Rally on Tuesday hit the national campaign trail running with its star leader, Jordan Bardella, promising supporters “the largest possible majority” at the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Opposition parties on the left and the right have been scrambling to form alliances and field candidates in the snap national elections called by President Emmanuel Macron after his party suffered a crushing defeat by the far right in the European Union vote on Sunday.

While sharp differences between parties on both sides of the political spectrum remain, prominent figures calling for a united front in both camps appear to have one thing in common: They don’t want to cooperate with Macron.

Despite their divisions, left-wing parties agreed late Monday to form a new alliance that includes the Greens, the Socialists, the Communists and the far-left France Unbowed of Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Leaders have not agreed on who will head the new coalition nor on its program.

In light of the European polls, politicians on the left are focused on closing ranks to prevent a win for the National Rally that could result in the French far right leading a government for the first time since World War II. For now they have also vowed not to join forces with Macron's centrists.

In a joint statement, the alliance called on all forces on the left, including the influential labor unions, to unite behind a “new popular front” to form an “alternative to Emmanuel Macron and to fight against the racist project of the far right.”

The National Rally leader Marine Le Pen is working to consolidate power on the right ahead of the two-round elections that will take place on June 30 and July 7. Le Pen’s niece, Marion Maréchal, who won a seat in the European Parliament on Sunday as a member of the rival Reconquer! party of Eric Zemmour, on Monday visited National Rally headquarters in Paris to negotiate a far-right alliance at the upcoming elections.

Le Pen also met with members of the conservative Republicans party to discuss a united front. Some conservative lawmakers have supported some of Macron’s bills in the National Assembly since the president lost a majority in the lower house of the French parliament following the 2022 general election.

“We have a historic chance to allow the national camp to put France back on track,” Le Pen said in an interview with the French public broadcaster on Monday evening. She said the National Rally and the conservatives could agree on several policy goals, including an economic recovery plan, boosting purchasing power and curbing immigration.

Bardella, Le Pen’s 28-year-old protégé and the face of the far right's European triumph, also urged French conservatives to ride the wave of popularity with the National Rally.

Bardella called on the conservatives to “stop being Emmanuel Macron’s political crutch” and called on them to ”come and work alongside us” in an interview with French broadcaster RTL on Tuesday.