You are here

Macron urges anti-extremist alliance ahead of French polls

By AFP - Jun 13,2024 - Last updated at Jun 13,2024

French far-right Reconquete Party former lead candidate for the European parliament election Marion Marechal (centre) makes a statement next to Reconquete's Guillaume Peltier (third left) outside the national assembly in Paris on Wednesday (AFP photo)

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday said he was seeking an alliance against political extremes in snap elections, adding he aimed to keep the far right from succeeding him in 2027 when he steps down.

Macron was speaking at a rare domestic news conference three days after the far right upended his presidency and spurred him to call risky early polls by recording more than double the score of his ruling party in European elections.

A landmark realignment of French politics now appears to be in progress, with the leader of the main right-wing party backing an alliance with the far right, triggering warfare within his own group.

With little chance of overtaking the far-right National Rally (RN) in the campaign for the two-round election on June 30 and July 7, Macron's best chance appears to be to build a broad-based centrist coalition appealing to the moderate left and right.

"I hope that when the time comes, men and women of goodwill who will have been able to say no to the extremes will come together... will put themselves in a position to build a shared, sincere project that is useful to the country," Macron told journalists.

"The answer, in my eyes, could not come through changing the government or a coalition... dissolving parliament was necessary," Macron said.

'Respond to their anger'

Macron, who must stand down in 2027 after serving the maximum two terms, said one reason he had called the snap polls was to prevent the RN under Marine Le Pen winning the presidency in 2027.

"I do not want to give the keys to power to the far-right in 2027," he told reporters.

He took full responsibility for seeking to clarify matters by calling the election, he added.

Counting the RN, other far-right parties and the hard left, he said that some 50 per cent of the French had voted for "extremes" in the European elections.

 

“You can’t tell them [the French]: ‘We’re continuing as if nothing had happened’. That’s not respecting them, that’s not listening to them,” he said.

“I want there to be a government that can act to respond to their anger, to their urgent demands.”

Macron’s forces face an uphill struggle to reverse their fortunes. The first polls show a picture little changed from the EU elections, with a far-right majority in the national assembly not excluded.

It will be Prime Minister Gabriel Attal who will lead the campaign rather than Macron, with some party figures wanting the president to keep a relatively low profile in the campaign due to his unpopularity.

Macron acknowledged voters’ “difficulty getting by even when they’re working, very everyday difficulties” that had created “anger, sometimes resentment”.

People “feel that they aren’t listened to or respected... We can’t remain indifferent to all these messages”, he added.

‘Pact with devil’

But he also lashed out at conservative Republicans (LR), whose leader Eric Ciotti on Tuesday announced an alliance with the RN, as well as a left-wing alliance including the hard-left France Unbowed (LFI).

The right had “in a few hours turned its back on the legacy of General [Charles] de Gaulle” — as well as former presidents Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, who come from the same political family.

Ciotti had sealed a “pact with the devil”, Macron said, adding that the “masks were being removed”.

Ciotti’s move also sparked a mass revolt within the LR, with party grandees at an emergency meeting on Wednesday unanimously voting to oust him.

LR lawmaker Annie Genevard said afterwards the party would present the French public with candidates in all “independence” for the upcoming polls.

Ciotti, who earlier closed down party headquarters to force them to find another venue, claimed the decision was void and on X said he remained LR president.

At the same time, mainstream left-wing parties have allied with an LFI that Macron accused of “anti-Semitism” over its response to Palestinian militant group Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel and the war in Gaza.

Voters had a choice between “unholy alliances at the two extremes who agree on almost nothing except handing out jobs” versus his own bloc with “a single vision of the country” both at home and abroad, Macron said.

up
80 users have voted.


Newsletter

Get top stories and blog posts emailed to you each day.

PDF