French parties rush to seek alliances ahead of snap election

France's divided left-wing parties pledged to work together and nominate joint candidates in the elections, but are yet to strike a formal deal

By Reuters

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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Published: Tue 11 Jun 2024, 1:35 PM

French political parties were rushing to try and find potential new alliances on Tuesday ahead of a snap election which opinion polls show Marine Le Pen's far-right party is likely to win.

The euro dropped as did French stocks and bonds after President Emmanuel Macron announced the lower house of parliament election for June 30 and July 7 following a massive loss for his camp in a European Parliament ballot on Sunday.

Le Pen's National Rally (RN) topped the first poll issued on Monday, although it said the party would fall short of an absolute majority of votes.

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If no single party wins an absolute majority, the leading party could try and strike an alliance with others, which RN is already working on.

But mainstream parties could try and unite against it.

Edouard Philippe, a former prime minister for Macron, called on moderate forces, ranging from Socialists to conservatives, to join together.

"We have to accept the idea we need to work with others", Philippe told RTL radio. "Let's together build something in the country's interest".

But a decades-old consensus in France's political establishment to join forces to keep the far right from the gates of power, once rock-solid but already weakened over the past years, appeared increasingly fragile.

"Never with us!," Eric Ciotti, the head of the conservative Les Republicains (LR), said on X in response to Philippe's comments.

RN president Jordan Bardella, who has already said he is trying to poach LR members and could back some in the election, jumped on the occasion.

"I'm calling on the Republicans to stop being Emmanuel Macron's political crutch", he said on RTL radio. "If you have convictions, if you love your country ... come and work alongside us."

Meanwhile, France's divided left-wing parties pledged to work together and nominate joint candidates in the elections, but are yet to strike a formal deal.

In a joint release late on Monday the Socialists, Greens and the more hardline LFI (France Unbowed) and Communist parties vowed to "present an alternative to (President) Emmanuel Macron and fight against the racist project of the far right".

"There are moments in history one has no right to miss... there needs to be action, an electro shock, and a first step will be this union", Greens senator Yannick Jadot told France Inter radio.

Although the outcome of the ballot is hard to predict, a victory does not seem within reach for the left. They could, however, hope to weigh in on who will be named prime minister.

The RN calls for protectionist 'France first' economic policies and a radical cut in immigration. It would restrict childcare benefits to French citizens, withdraw residency for migrants who are out of work for more than a year.

It has also proposed higher public spending, despite already significant levels of French debt, threatening to further raise funding costs at banks.

Rating agency Moody's said the election could affect the country's credit score, saying political instability "is a credit risk given the challenging fiscal picture the next government will inherit."

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called on business leaders to help campaign against the far right.

"I'm appealing to the business world, I'm appealing to business leaders, artisans, shopkeepers, the self-employed", Le Maire said on BFM television.

"People have got to get their hands dirty, it's the most important election since 1958," he said, referring to the beginning of the fifth republic, considered the starting point of modern French politics.

An IFOP survey released on Tuesday said 36% of polled citizens were hoping for Le Pen's movement to win.

Parties need to field their candidates by the end of the week.


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