French parties seek alliances in advance of snap elections

PARIS (Reuters) -French parties are rushing to find new alliances ahead of a snap general election that Marine Le Pen’s extreme right party is expected to win, according to opinion polls.

After President Emmanuel Macron, who suffered a crushing defeat in Sunday’s European Parliament vote for his party, announced that the lower house elections would be held on June 30 and 7th of July.

Le Pen’s National Rally topped the first survey released on Monday. However, it stated that the party would not achieve an absolute majority.

If there is no absolute majority, RN has already begun to form an alliance.

The mainstream parties can unite to fight it.

Former Macron Prime Minister Edouard Philippe called for moderate forces to unite.

Philippe said on RTL radio: “We must accept that we have to work with other people”. “Let us work together to build something that is in the interest of our country”.

The decades-old consensus of France’s political establishment, which once seemed unbreakable but has weakened in recent years, to unite forces to keep far-right politicians from power, appears to be increasingly fragile.

Eric Ciotti, leader of Les Republicains (LR), the conservative party, said on X that Philippe had never been with them.

Jordan Bardella, the RN President, who had already stated that he was trying to poach LR Members and might back some of them in the elections, jumped at the opportunity.

He said on RTL radio that he was calling on Republicans to stop acting as Emmanuel Macron’s crutch. “If you are a person of conviction, if your love for your country is strong… then come and work with us.”

MOODY’S WARNING

The divided French left-wing parties have pledged to cooperate and to nominate joint candidates for the elections. However, they are yet to reach a formal agreement.

In a late-Monday joint press release, the Socialists (and Greens), the LFI (France Unbowed), and Communist Parties vowed “to present an alternative to President Emmanuel Macron (and fight against the racist projects of the far right”.

Yannick Jadot, Greens Senator, told France Inter radio that “there are moments in history which one cannot miss… There needs to be an electro-shock, and this union will be a first step”.

The left is unlikely to win, even though the results are difficult to predict. However, they could hope to have a say in who is named as prime minister.

The RN advocates a protectionist ‘France First’ economic policy and a drastic reduction in immigration. The RN would limit childcare benefits for French citizens and withdraw residency from migrants who have been out of work more than one year.

The French government has proposed higher public expenditure, despite the already high levels of debt in France, which threatens to increase funding costs for banks.

The rating agency Moody’s warned that the election may affect the credit score of the country, stating that political instability is “a credit risk” given the difficult fiscal situation the next government inherits.

Bruno Le Maire, Finance Minister, called on the business community to join in the campaign against extreme right-wingers.

Le Maire, on BFM TV, said: “I appeal to the business community, to business leaders and entrepreneurs, to shopkeepers and self-employed people.”

He said that people should get dirty because it was the most important vote since 1958, the start of the 5th republic and the modern French political system.

A survey by IFOP released on Tuesday showed that 36% of respondents hoped for Le Pen to win.

By the end of this week, parties must announce their candidates.

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