Tags: france | election | president | emmanuel macron | far right

Macron Support Collapsing in Run Up to Parliamentary Election

Monday, 17 June 2024 07:24 AM EDT

France began a frantically short election campaign Monday, with President Emmanuel Macron's centrist alliance facing an uphill struggle to avoid a new defeat at the hands of the far right.

Macron called the snap parliamentary polls three years early in a dramatic gamble to shake up politics in France after the far right trounced his centrists in EU elections.

But with less than two weeks before the vote, his alliance risks being squeezed by new coalitions on the left and right.

Many in France remain baffled over why Macron called an election just weeks before the country hosts the Olympics, risking the far-right National Rally (RN) leading the government and 28-year-old Jordan Bardella becoming prime minister.

"Emmanuel Macron, who triggered this dissolution to trap the parties, has ended up trapping himself," said Le Monde daily, warning that the RN risked winning the election.

Candidates had until Sunday evening to register for the 577 seats in the lower house National Assembly ahead of the official start of campaigning from midnight. The first round of voting takes places on June 30, with the decisive second round coming seven days later.

Prime minister Gabriel Attal told RTL radio Macron's party, Renaissance (RE), and its allies won't field candidates in about 60 electoral districts in an attempt to clear the way for other parties with a better chance of defeating the far right and a new leftist alliance, Bloomberg reported.

The political tremors have reached the Euro 2024 football tournament in Germany, where France's star player Kylian Mbappe said he was "against extremes and divisive ideas" and urged young people to vote at a "crucial moment" in French history.

"Today we can all see that extremists are very close to winning power and we have the opportunity to choose the future of our country," Mbappe said.

"I hope I will still be proud to wear this shirt after July 7."

Macron's dissolving of parliament after the French far right's victory in the EU vote has undoubtedly redrawn the lines of French politics.

"The aim is to create a new parliamentary majority," former prime minister Edouard Philippe, who leads a party allied to Macron's bloc, told BFMTV.

But perhaps to Macron's surprise, a new left-wing alliance — the New Popular Front that takes in Socialists, Greens and hard-leftist France Unbowed (LFI) — has emerged.

On the right, Eric Ciotti, the leader of the Republicans (LR), has agreed an election pact with the RN, provoking fury inside the party and a move by its leadership to dismiss him, which a Paris court blocked on Friday.

In a further twist, the new left-wing alliance has already shown signs of cracking, with the LFI's raucous figurehead Jean-Luc Melenchon too divisive a figure for some to contend for prime minister.

Attal, who is leading the campaign for Macron's bloc, said voters had three choices.

"There's the alliance led by (hard-left) LFI, there's the alliance led by the (far-right) RN — extremes that would be a disaster for the country," he told the RFL broadcaster.

And "there's a third bloc ... that we are leading."

Macron is this week due to return to the domestic campaign fray from engagements abroad at the G7 summit in Italy and the Ukraine peace conference in Switzerland.

The personal stakes are huge for the president, who risks becoming a lame duck until his term expires in 2027. He then faces handing over power to the RN's Marine Le Pen who is likely to run for the Elysee for a fourth time.

Former Socialist prime minister Lionel Jospin, who famously bowed out of politics in 2002 after Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine's father, knocked him out of the presidential elections run-off, warned of the perils for Macron.

He said the president had forced the country into a "hurried" campaign and was "giving the RN a chance to come to power in France."

"It's not responsible," he told Le Monde, accusing Macron of "arrogance" and witheringly adding that "surprise is not enough to be master of the game".

In an interview with the Journal du Dimanche newspaper, former president Nicolas Sarkozy also warned that Macron was taking a risk for himself and the country, saying the move "could plunge France into chaos from which it will have the greatest difficulty in emerging."

© AFP 2024

France began a frantically short election campaign Monday, with President Emmanuel Macron's centrist alliance facing an uphill struggle to avoid a new defeat at the hands of the far right.
france, election, president, emmanuel macron, far right
Monday, 17 June 2024 07:24 AM
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