Chaos On French Right As Macron's Snap Poll Upends Politics


(MENAFN- Jordan Times) PARIS - French right-wing parties were mired in infighting on Thursday as campaigning intensified for snap elections called by President Emmanuel Macron, while his government faces a more unified challenge from the left.

Macron's gamble on early elections comes two years after he failed to secure a majority in parliament to buttress his second presidential term. It risks strengthening the far-right National Rally (RN) and has sparked a meltdown among traditional conservatives.

Eric Ciotti of the mainstream Republicans party announced a surprise alliance with the RN this week, which prompted the rest of the leadership to vote him out Wednesday.

But Ciotti insisted on Thursday that he was still party leader, dismissing the effort to oust him as“quibbles, little battles by mediocre people... who understand nothing about what's going on in the country”, adding that it was legally void.

“I'm president of the party, I'm going to my office and that's it,” Ciotti told reporters as he arrived at Republicans headquarters in Paris. He called his opponents' vote a“takeover” attempt and said he was challenging its validity in court.

A Paris court is set to examine the case on Friday morning, a judicial source said.

Viral images had spread on social media the day before of Paris region president Valerie Pecresse rolling up her sleeves as she approached the Republicans Party headquarters closed by Ciotti in an apparent bid to prevent the party's political committee from meeting to oust him.

But some on the right remain open to the RN.

Francois-Xavier Bellamy, the party's lead candidate in Sunday's European Parliament vote, said he would“of course” vote for an RN candidate over the left in a second-round run-off.

“I'll do everything to prevent France Unbowed [LFI] coming to power,” Bellamy told broadcaster Europe 1, referring to the hard-left group that has struck an alliance with other left-leaning parties.

Call to protest

The lightning election campaign, with the first round of voting on June 30, has also split the RN's smaller far-right rival Reconquest over whether to ally with the heavyweight formation.

Marion Marechal, who led Reconquest's European Parliament list, was excluded from the party after she called for an alliance with the RN - whose leading figure Marine Le Pen is her aunt.

While smaller outfits fight amongst themselves, Le Pen's RN appears set to cruise to a massively increased parliamentary presence from its current 88 out of 577 seats.

The party“will come out on top of the election with the largest parliamentary group but short of an absolute majority,” University College London political scientist Philippe Marliere said.

Several trade unions and associations called for street protests against the far right, with police saying they expected 50,000 to 100,000 protesters in Paris on Saturday.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal told France Inter radio that voters faced a“societal choice”.

Macron's centrist camp offers a“progressive, pro-work, democratic” alternative, he said.

'Seismic change'

Macron's camp has dubbed itself Together for the Republic, a senior member told AFP on Thursday after a strategy meeting with Attal and chiefs of allied parties.

Their message will be,“do you want [RN president] Jordan Bardella or [LFI founder] Jean-Luc Melenchon” as prime minister, a source close to Attal said.

Left-wing leaders, meanwhile, were debating issues including who might be prime minister if their alliance comes out on top. LFI's repeat presidential candidate Melenchon and senior MP Francois Ruffin have thrown their hats in the ring.

Along with LFI, the Socialist, Communist and Green parties said in a joint statement they had agreed on a plan for how to form a government under the name of the New Popular Front.

“We have succeeded. A page of history is being written,” Socialist leader Olivier Faure said on X.

Mujtaba Rahman, managing director for Europe at Eurasia Group, said that France was undergoing“seismic political change”, describing the new legislative elections as the most momentous of the country's post-war history.

“The early opinion polls are dominated by the radical, anti-European, nationalist-populist Lepennist right and a left led by the radical, anti-European, anti-capitalist LFI,” he said in a report.

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Jordan Times

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