France’s conservative leader calls on pact with the far right

Ahead of the snap legislative elections scheduled for June 30, which have caused financial markets to tremble, the leader of France’s centre right party has called on an alliance between his party and Rassemblement National of extreme right.

The agreement would increase the likelihood that RN will win an absolute majority at the elections called by President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday.

Eric Ciotti, leader Les Republicains, a centre-right party, said that his party must strike an alliance with “the RN, its candidate, and all those who identify themselves with ideas, values, and the right”.

Ciotti said, “I want my family to move this way,” calling for a force that would oppose “the impotence of Macronism”, and the threat posed by the extreme left.

Marine Le Pen (leader of the far right) said Ciotti made a brave choice and praised his “sense” of responsibility.

This is a blow for Macron’s hopes to form a united front against the RN with forces from the centre-left, centre-right and the extreme-right.

The left-wing parties have already reached a preliminary agreement to run one list of candidates, including the Socialists (including the Communists), the Greens, and the far-left France Unbowed Party, but not President Hollande’s center-left alliance.

Investors sold French shares for a second day in a row on Tuesday as markets digested that RN could be the party to take power or share it following the election. RN advocates tens and tens billions of Euros extra public spending.

The Cac 40 French stock index has fallen by 2.7 percent this week. This is the biggest drop in two days since July 2023.

Ciotti was immediately rejected by other senior members of LR, who suggested that the party could fall apart in the lead-up to elections, as it has been divided over how closely to cooperate with the extreme right.

Gerard Larcher is the president of the Senate, a prominent LR figure, and said, “I believe that following Eric Ciotti’s remarks, he cannot lead our movement any longer and must resign from his position as party chair.”

Michel Barnier, a senior figure in the Republicains, and former Brexit negotiator for the EU, has also called upon his party to reject a far-right coalition. Barnier told X that an alliance with a populist, anti-European group is never the answer.

Macron’s allies have also criticized the move of the conservative leader.

Gerald Darmanin said, “Eric Ciotti signs a Munich Agreement and plunges the Gaullist Family in dishonor,” Gerald Darmanin was the interior minister on X. He was referring to the 1938 agreements France and Britain signed with Nazi Germany.

The shame of it “People of France, wake-up!”

Macron’s surprise decision to hold two elections in two rounds, on June 30th and July 7th, followed the RN’s rout in Sunday’s European Elections, which echoed other far-right victories in Europe.

Jordan Bardella (28), the RN leader and Le Pen protégé, has been wooing figures from the right. Bardella said on RTL radio that he had “a number of conversations” with people outside his political family. He added that this included senior Republicains who wanted to join him.

Initial talks to incorporate another far-right party, the anti immigration Reconquete Party led by former presidential candidate Eric Zemmour have failed for now.

Marion Marechal, Le Pen’s nephew who left her aunt’s party in 2017, and who was in talks with Bardella in order to bring Reconquete aboard, said on Tuesday that the RN leader refused to form a pact in the end because he did not want to be associated with Zemmour.

Just half of LR’s 57 members of parliament could join the RN to achieve an absolute majority. This requires 289 seats. Toluna Harris Interactive predicted the RN would win between 235 to 265 seats.

The market’s moves on Tuesday came after Europe 1 reported that Macron discussed resigning in case he suffered a second heavy defeat during the two-round elections to the parliament.

According to a person who is close to the President, the rumours are unfounded.

Macron has moved a planned press conference for Tuesday to Wednesday.

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